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Numbers Don’t Lie. Road Safety Drastically Changes Driver Behavior, Reduces Operational Costs

Mike McKevitt | May 4, 2017

Vehicle crashes impact the entire community. Response times may be delayed. Patient outcomes may be affected. And your reputation in your community may be damaged. What if you could drastically change driver behavior and at the same time, save your organization money? Two EMS agencies having been successfully using ZOLL’s Road Safety—a small hardware unit that is installed in each vehicle and gives the driver immediate audible feedback based on performance factors such as acceleration, cornering and stopping—for years; and the data is conclusive: speeding violations are way down and cost savings are way up.  

Colorado EMS Agency Reduces Speeding Violations by 95 Percent

For the last 20 years, Poudre Valley Hospital EMS (PVH-EMS) has operated at no cost to taxpayers. The agency relies heavily on grants and other alternate funding sources to support their life-saving efforts. In 2010, PVH-EMS received a grant from the State of Colorado to purchase new ambulances under one condition: they had to install a driver feedback system.

“We looked at a couple different devices, and ultimately decided on ZOLL Road Safety,” said Ted Beckham, division chief of PVH-EMS. “We needed to have the immediate feedback that came with Road Safety that other solutions didn’t offer.” When drivers exceed the safety limits PVH-EMS set, Road Safety would give immediate feedback in the form of audible growls, clicks and beeps.

“We set Road Safety to sound if there’s a 35 percent increase in g-force acceleration, and the tones become louder and louder and more frequent when the g-force increases to 50 percent,” Beckham said. Within weeks of turning on Road Safety’s audio alerts, speeding violations dropped 95 percent and aggressive driving dropped by 50 percent. Average miles driven between violations increased by a factor of 40. The safety threshold levels in the system were customized—and were chosen carefully—Beckham said.

 “If even one accident is avoided, the payback on Road Safety is immediate. Safety–of our crew, patients and community—is our top priority,” Beckham said. “Road Safety’s immediate feedback changed the crew’s driving behavior instantly and created a sustainable culture of safety throughout our organization.”

 

Road Safety Reduces Maintenance Costs by 42 Percent

In 2009, Fort Smith (Arkansas) Emergency Medical Service (EMS) realized that providing “Best in Class” ambulance service was more than just providing a paramedic staffed ambulance for medical emergencies. The service undertook an aggressive service improvement project to improve their quality of service and take it to the next level, which inevitably led to a community-first philosophy.

To help with post-crash analysis and identify non-compliant behavior, Fort Smith EMS installed video surveillance cameras. They thought the cameras would improve driver performance because of management oversight. “We thought we had a pretty good grasp on the driving performance of our personnel,” said Brian Weindel, communications manager. They were able to now identify poor driving habits, but were not successful in changing their drivers’ unsafe behavior. So they decided to invest in Road Safety. During Fort Smith EMS’ trial of Road Safety, their data immediately justified the product:

  • 72 percent reduction in aggressive driving
  • Speed violations decreased by 95 percent
  • 2,000 percent increase in the average miles driven between violations
  • Increased overall driver performance rankings
  • 42 percent reduction in maintenance, an annual savings of $30,270
  • 12 percent increase in fuel efficiency, an annual savings of $18,021

As the data shows, real-time audible driver feedback coupled with accountability and management support had an immediate positive impact to driver performance. “The Road Safety study proved we needed more than just video surveillance to ensure the safety of our patients and personnel,” Weindel said.

Now an award-winning EMS agency, Fort Smith EMS has become a premier non-profit ambulance service and has earned national recognition as an innovative Emergency Services Medical leader. It was named the Arkansas Advanced Life Support Service of the Year in 2010 and received the 2012 Horizon Award and the 2014 Technology Leadership Award from the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

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