USAG YONGSAN -- Traffic accidents, one of the leading causes of death in the United States, indiscriminately inflict significant physical, emotional and financial injury -- even on an organizational level.
The U.S. Army is no exception, recording 70 deaths in Fiscal Year 2016 as a result of privately owned vehicle accidents, according to Army accident statistics year end data. Moreover, accidents result in significant property damage. In 2016, Logistic Readiness Centers spent more than $200,000 for repairing government owned vehicles (GOV) among four installations, according to Marshall Mcmickell, transportation officer of the 403rd Army Field Support Brigade.
USAG Yongsan has put in place a telematics device in government vehicles as an experimental solution to mitigate these costly figures. Six weeks since their installation, the garrison has accumulated enough information to share and perhaps influence other commands like the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center of the importance of reducing driving incidents across the Army.
Since the installation in June 2017, there have been only one collision and five near collision events. The Drivecam was able to detect risky behaviors as well. Below are some of the statistics recorded over the six-week period:
- Frequency of risky behavior has decreased by 31%.
- Severity of the events has decreased by 25%.
- Failure to wear a seatbelt has dropped by 80%.
- Following at a safe distance has improved by 23%.
- Sudden braking or other late response events decreased by 53%.
- Traffic violations increased by 320%.
- Distracted driving occurrences increased by 121%.
"We wanted to collect data at this time to test the system rather than exercise the system to its full potential," said George Carlson, Plans and Operations Officer of LRC-Yongsan. Some of the increase in figures could be attributed to the captured raw data, he said. Improvements may also be due to a combination of drivers becoming used to the system and/or the introduction of new drivers to the pool.
The camera on the Drivecam, a special blackbox that supports telematics, is triggered by an incident or actual collision. Unlike ordinary blackboxes, which are geared toward documenting accidents, the Drivecam is intended to correct dangerous and risky driving behaviors. The camera saves eight seconds before the instigating event occurs and four seconds after the event. The recorded video is then analyzed to determine the cause of the event and the driving behaviors associated with the event.
During the six weeks of the trial period, the Drivecam recorded various dangerous driving habits. In one example, two Soldiers were caught speeding and shouting in a nearby commercial area as if they were racing at an amusement park. The incident was then reported to their command, and renewed emphasis on driving safety and professionalism ensued throughout the command. Drivers in uniform in government vehicles represent the U.S. Army, said Carlson.
Some people are optimistic that the Drivecam system has potential to reduce vehicle accidents.
"We have identified specific problem drivers that need reinforcement training through the six-week trial of Drivecam," said David Johnson, director of the USFK Safety Office. "Overall, Drivecam has shown promising results that could provide significant reductions in our motor vehicle accidents."
According to Carlson, LRC-Yongsan extended the trial period of Drivecam to the end of December 2017.