Driver inputs and dynamic outputs

Description / objective

The objectives of measuring driving style are to reduce fuel consumption, improve road safety, reduced operational costs and to reduce emissions levels. Accelerometers are an effective tool in helping to monitor driving style and in most cases are used in conjunction with GPS. Accelerometers are sensors mounted on-board the vehicle and are generally connected to the on-board computer for data processing so that information can be displayed to the driver or the operations control centre.

The most common systems use GPS units to provide heading information and accelerometers to detect a wide range of vehicle movements including braking, acceleration and cornering. These devices are mounted on-board and essentially use the vehicle as a probe into driver behaviour. These systems monitor driver behaviour in real time and also record data so that it can be used to create driver profiles and to analyse performance. Specific systems use dashboard displays of various kinds to interact with drivers notifying them of poor driving techniques.

Recently there have also been efforts to use smartphone technologies to achieve real time driving style monitoring. The aim is to use the accelerometer and GPS technology within the smartphone itself to provide accurate data which can be used to interact with the driver in real-time and to track and record behaviour for further analysis. This method uses the in-built devices along with a software platform to present the information.


In vehicle data capture of driving style using accelerometers can be used as an operations management tool for driving standards compliance and performance monitoring. It can also be used as a driver aid for economic driving assistance, vehicle condition monitoring and schedule adherence support. Integrated GPS also allows for real-time vehicle tracking and operations management.

Advantages and cautions

These system types provide operators with a valuable tool for achieving a variety of savings in terms of costs and time. They tend to be easily operated and implemented and are driver friendly. They are more cost effective and less intrusive than camera based systems and allow for performance improvement schemes to be tracked over time so that effectiveness can be evaluated. Although these types of systems are effective in monitoring driver behaviour they do not provide an indication of the effect of driver behaviour on vehicle components such as brakes. Other systems are available that continuously monitor vehicle performance and integration with such systems would give operators a much better idea of the effects of driving behaviour on component lifespan performance and fuel efficiency.

Relevant case studies

Prince William County

Relevant examples in Lisbon, Portugal; London, UK