A new study from the University of Waterloo data from 28 million trips recorded by on-board devices. They looked for possible links between four bad driving behaviours – speeding, hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering – and the likelihood of crashes. Their analysis revealed speeding is a strong predictor of crashes, while statistically significant links for the other kinds of aggressive driving couldn’t be established.
Data for the study came from insurance companies in Ontario and Texas with clients who had on-board diagnostic devices installed in their vehicles. In the first study of its kind, researchers initially analyzed the data to identify 28 crashes based on indicators such as rapid deceleration. Each vehicle in those crashes was then matched with 20 control vehicles that had not been in crashes, but were similar in terms of other characteristics, including geographic location and driving distance.
It was also suggested that speeding might be a difficult issue to address. “The problem with speeding is there isn’t this negative reinforcement cycle,” Allaa (Ella) Hilal, an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering said. Arriving early and avoiding accidents despite speeding “negatively reinforces” people’s bad driving behaviour, she said. Hilal believes the data could also make roads safer by giving drivers both tangible evidence and financial incentives to change. “Having this information exposed and understood allows people to wrap their minds around their true risks and improve their driving behaviours,” she said. “We are super pumped about its potential.”
Hilal said rewarding good driving could counteract that issue, and cities could work with insurance companies to monitor customer’s driving behaviours and provide discounts on insurance to drivers with a record of driving a safe speed.