Tech that monitors driver behaviour

3 June 2019

Driver behaviour monitoring devices are diverse in their usability and methods of data collection, but they all help you better understand driver behaviour.


Business owners and truck fleet managers are often the last people to learn about the driving behaviour of their drivers. Parents who worry about their kids’ driving have no way of knowing whether they are doing everything they have been taught or if they’re being careless out on the roads. These are just two of the problems that driver behavior monitoring devices aim to solve. These devices are diverse in their usability and methods of data collection, but they all help you know better how drivers conduct themselves on the roads. 

Whether you are a worried parent or a truck fleet manager, driver behavior monitoring devices can be a blessing because they always keep you informed and in touch with the driver. In recent years, there has been a lot of development in the tech sector for monitoring. Many car manufacturers now use cutting edge GPS technology as well as dashcam cameras to keep the drivers in check.

Some brands are even pouring machine learning and artificial intelligence into the mix to identify troubling driving habits in a timely manner so that unfortunate incidents can be avoided. 

Volvo, the car industry giant, announced recently that they are using cameras in their vehicles to keep an eye on the driver’s behavior. The cameras will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify if the driver is intoxicated or distracted by their phone. The cameras will do this by reading the driver’s eye movements. If the driver is looking to the side instead of on the road for too long or if they are lowering their eyes for too long to maybe look at the phone, they will get a call from Volvo. If they fail to respond in a timely manner or fix their behavior, the car will automatically start to slow down or even come to a stop.

In a similar move, a new Nissan concept car has alcohol odour sensors as well as a camera mounted on the dashboard that monitors consciousness. If the driver blinks too slowly (indicating drowsiness), a voice and message alert system is triggered.

While this kind of tech might not be readily available in South Africa just yet, it’s promising to know that it is on the horizon.

Automakers are also tracking the car’s movements to collect information on driver behaviour. If the car is braking abruptly it might mean that the driver is driving too fast in traffic. They can detect the car's speed and match it with the location from the GPS in the car. That way, the business owners, or parents will be able to know if the car was being driven over speed.

Through integration of hardware, software and communication technologies, you can always keep in touch with your driver and find comfort in the fact that your friend or child is driving responsibly and taking care of your car. Insurance companies have a huge interest in monitoring driver behavior as well. Which is why they are some of the biggest supporters of adopting the tech to help it.

In a survey, when asked about their opinion on distracted driving, 85 percent of respondents identified the issue as a very important problem. When asked to rate their overall driving safety, 90 percent claimed to be safe drivers, but 47 percent admitted to using their device so often they fall in the Phone Addict category.

Apps are being developed for mobile devices to identify when you are on your phone behind the wheel. The purpose of this data collection is obviously to encourage safer driving habits. But it has many practical benefits for the drivers as well. It helps drivers identify and improve their bad habits while driving.

Insurance companies are partnering up with these developers. The data collected through their devices is not only helpful in encouraging good driving habits, but it also comes in handy in case of an accident. The data can help determine who's to blame for the accident or if it really was an accident at all.

But is it safe?

A hacker has recently claimed that he broke into the accounts of users of two GPS tracking apps. He claimed that he was able to track vehicles right here in South Africa, as well as Morocco, India and the Philippines. This is a scary thought when you consider that some of these GPS tracking devices have the ability to remotely turn off the engines of the vehicles they monitor!

If this technology got in the wrong hands, it could cause traffic chaos all around the world. Sounds like something out of a Scifi movie, doesn’t it?


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