The 5 Pillars of Brightmile: shaping the future of fleet risk management

We recently described how we are leveraging the power and ubiquity of the smartphone to make driver safety smarter and easier.

In this post, we’ll get into a bit more detail on how we are using the data that we collect from drivers’ smartphones, setting out the five metrics, or “5 Pillars”, that we use to assess driver behaviour.

But first, let us explain our approach.

When researching Brightmile, we focused first and foremost on the driver. It may sound obvious, but any driver safety initiative that fails to engage and connect with drivers is fundamentally flawed.

And when listening to drivers, we heard time and again how a complex aggregated ‘score’, involving a combination of acceleration, braking, cornering and speed, can be confusing and frustrating.

“Is 63 out of 100 good?” “How can I improve?” “Why am I being scored down when I had to brake harshly to avoid hitting the car in front of me?”

At Brightmile, therefore, we use only objective measurements so that drivers and managers can easily understand our assessments of performance without any ambiguity.

So, without further ado, here are our 5 Pillars:

1- Contextual Risk (Number of risk events)

Based on each driver’s speed, trajectory, location, and surrounding road infrastructure, the algorithms in the Brightmile app are constantly calculating that driver’s real-time exposure to road risk.

When risk exceeds a safe threshold, a contextual risk event is recorded. For example, if a driver approaches a junction without slowing down sufficiently, at the point when the driver no longer has time to brake safely a contextual risk event is recorded.

Other common areas of contextual road risk are (depending on the country) sharp bends, roundabouts, stop signs, and school zones.

Note that whilst we do not include harsh braking or cornering as standalone metrics, the unsafe elements of these practices are captured here in their appropriate context.

We’re proud of our unique contextual risk analysis because it provides constructive feedback to drivers and insight to managers, so watch this space for further illustrations of how it works in future blog posts.

2- Speeding (% of time spent above legal speed limits)

We don’t highlight single instances of speeding. Rather, we take a holistic view and look at a driver’s overall pattern of speed limit compliance.

3- Distractions (Number of smartphone touches whilst driving)

As mentioned in previous blog posts, around 30% of crashes on the roads today are estimated to be caused by smartphone distraction, and it is now the biggest contributory factor in road crashes.

So it’s concerning that traditional telematics systems are unable to measure how often drivers interact with their phones whilst driving.

Whether chatting with friends on Whatsapp or checking traffic updates, smartphones are addictive. One user registered over 70 distractions on a journey home as he used Waze to investigate route options once he found out a motorway was closed. And he’s not alone. As we know, it’s hard to change behaviour if you don’t realise you’re doing it. That’s just human nature.

4- Fatigue (Time spent driving without taking required breaks)

Fatigue is a significant factor that increases risks for road users. We want our users to understand the time they spend at the wheel and how much of it is at risk of becoming fatigued.

5- Eco (Number of incidents of harsh acceleration)

Whilst we don’t necessarily correlate harsh acceleration to unsafe behaviour, it’s hard to argue that incorrect use of the accelerator doesn’t burn more fuel. This pillar encourages smooth driving and fuel economy, savings that go straight to our customers’ bottom lines.

So there we have our 5 Pillars. But that’s just the beginning — arguably more important than what data we collect is how we use that data to change driver behaviour.

First, we give drivers and their managers a clear, objective overview of how they are scoring overall, as a trend over time, and against a relevant benchmark. This enables drivers to ‘self-coach’ to improve their scores, and managers to focus their efforts on the outliers who tend to cause a disproportionate amount of risk.

However at Brightmile we prefer the carrot to the stick. We have therefore focused on gamifying our app to incentivise drivers to improve their behaviour with rewards, challenges, and positive reinforcement. We’ll explain a little more about the importance of gamification in our next blog post.

Like changing any habit, we know that improving driver behaviour isn’t easy. We know that drivers are only human, and so any change will take time. We believe that our 5 Pillars provide the solid foundations on which we can all work together to sustainably increase the safety of our roads.

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