TL;DR – Real-time feedback on your driving can stop you from beating the red light.
Tower Transit, one of the newest bus operators in Singapore, implemented a telematics (data transmission) system last year to monitor driving patterns of bus captains.
The system will be able to detect instances of sloppy driving like braking, sudden acceleration, abrupt lane changes, sharp turns and speeding. Drivers will then be alerted through the green, amber and red lights flashing on the dashboard.
According to a TODAY Online report, Mr Amirul Hakim, one of the bus captains at Tower Transit, had a bad habit of abruptly braking when driving. He used to do that frequently when vehicles swerved into his lane or pedestrians crossed the road.
When the telematics system flagged these irregularities to his employer, Amiurl was later asked to attend a one-day refresher course. Eventually, he managed to rectify the habit of braking abruptly and it helped him to be a safer driver.
Tower Transit claimed that the total number of incidents halved from 280,000 to 150,000 over the past year. Accidents caused by bus captains also dropped by nearly 70 per cent.
Fitbit for cars
The concept of providing real-time feedback on your driving, trip logs and access to vehicle diagnostics is not new.
Three years ago, Dash a New York-backed startup launched their Fitbit for cars. The device connects via bluetooth with smartphone to communicate with the Dash app.
It can even watch petrol consumption and detect crashes.
For instance, if a driver brakes suddenly at a traffic light, there would be a voice from the app to “reprimand” the driver: “Hard-brake alert.”
Guide for P-plate drivers
It’s not uncommon for P-plate (probation plate) drivers to commit traffic offences. Some are aware when they violate traffic regulations but some are completely oblivious.
P-plate drivers only have a limit of 13 demerit points within the first year of driving. If they accumulate more than 12 demerit points within 12 months, their licence will be revoked. They will then have to re-sit the theory and practical driving test to get their licence back – and they can only do so after 12 months from date of revocation.
Beating the red light will incur 12 demerit points and a fine of $200 for light-weight vehicles.
Based on anecdotes in online forums, it is very difficult to appeal for leniency. Unless there were emergencies, traffic police will usually reject the appeal.
If P-plate drivers could install the Fitbit for their cars, perhaps the technology could alert them when they are approaching the traffic light and remind them to slow down?
Real-time feedback will help the drivers be more alert on the roads and prevent them from committing offences. Of course they should keep their eyes peeled on the road but this would help drivers who are very blur.
At the end of the trip, drivers could also review their trip and learn how to avoid certain mistakes in order to be a better driver.
P-plate drivers might feel slightly fearful to hit the roads by themselves especially if they bump into road bullies. The app could inject an extra boost of confidence into these drivers.
Telematics a game-changer in road safety
Telling someone to “drive safely” is actually quite meaningless if without specifics. For so long as we do not have a way to get information about how people drive and tell them what they’re doing wrong, we might as well wish them good luck.
Telematics has changed all that. We can now actually show drivers how they currently operate their vehicles and what specifically they can do to drive their cars better.