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Israeli company keeps a virtual eye on drivers [VIDEO]

Posted By David Shamah On March 24, 2008 @ 10:21 am In | No Comments

Information on driving habits is gathered into a device installed in the car and then transmitted in real time to a database.For your kid, it’s the day he’s been looking forward to since he first played with toy racecars. For you, it’s the day you’ve been dreading. Your kid has just passed his driving test, and life will never be the same again.

Of course, they’ve promised to be careful, to drive slowly and stay away from dangerous situations. But you still can’t sleep – and with good reason: According to statistics, a teenager’s first 500 miles of driving are the most dangerous. During this time, teens are 10 times more likely to crash than an adult.

While you can’t be in the car to supervise them, an Israeli start-up has developed the next best thing – A device that you can install in the car that will keep a virtual eye on your kids, logging what they do behind the wheel in real-time – and even sending you an SMS when they break the rules.

GreenRoad, based in Or Yehuda and with offices in the US and Britain, has developed a monitoring system, called the GreenRoad Safety Center, which supervises drivers’ habits behind the wheel.

Information is gathered into a device installed in the car and transmitted in real time using cell phone technology to a database, where it is collated and analyzed – available for review later on by the driver or other relevant parties.

Data upload is possible anywhere your cell phone has reception, and when it’s not, the in-car “black box” device stores information and transmits it later. When a driver “violates” proper driving policy, they are gently “reminded” by the system that they need to adjust their driving attitude.

The system takes measurements on 120 different driving behaviors, taking into account different circumstances and situations, and is able to describe not only what happened during a driving session, but also build a profile that can predict how drivers will react when faced with a specific situation.

What’s truly revolutionary, says Hod Fleischman, who runs business development at GreenRoad, is that the system is the first to link actual driving behavior to a safety profile, in order to determine how drivers will react in dangerous situations.

“Until now, estimates of who was likely to be a safe or unsafe driver were determined on the basis of age, experience, etc. There was no real mechanism to examine drivers’ actual habits behind the wheel and correlate them with a safety profile,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

This is especially important, Fleischman says, for managers of large corporate fleets, who are under pressure to ensure that they hire the safest and best drivers.

Currently, GreenRoad is aiming its products at fleet managers (parents of teens will have to hold out a little bit longer), where the ability to keep a virtual eye on drivers in real time is essential.

“So far, most computer applications for fleets have been in the area of logistics or routing,” he explains. “GreenRoad’s solution is the first one geared to safety, which is just as important, if not more so, for companies with hundreds or thousands of drivers.”

GreenRoad has been working, for example, with a huge US bus company that transports about two million kids a day, and “which was very happy to install GreenRoad systems in its buses. Imagine the losses – to reputation and business – they could incur if a bus loaded with kids got into an accident,” Fleischman says, aside from the lawsuits such accidents generate.

And the system is effective, Fleischman says. “For fleets that use GreenRoad, accidents are down by about 50%,” he explains.

GreenRoad also promotes fuel efficiency – it turns out that when drivers control their maneuvers, resisting sudden starts and stops, as well as speeding, vehicles use less gas. “This turns out to be a major boon for the companies, because they can use the money they save on fuel to pay for the safety programs governments or insurance companies require them to implement. Thus, GreenRoad saves not only lives, but money, fuel, and time spent on litigation as well,” Fleischman says.

Now, GreenRoad is planning to start work on a version of its technology for worried parents. Fleischman says it will take a little organization to get the product ready for mass distribution on the “retail” level, but adds that the company is committed.

In fact, teen drivers are one of the main reasons GreenRoad exists in the first place, he admits. “Our chief technology officer, Ofer Raz, was once driving on the Ayalon Expressway in Tel Aviv and noticed several young drivers that were taking dangerous risks, endangering themselves and the other drivers on the road,” says Fleischman. “He said to himself, ‘if they knew their parents were watching, those kids wouldn’t dare drive like that.’ And you know what? He was right. That’s why GreenRoad is such a great idea.”

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