Measuring driver behavior with mobile phone sensor technology

Written by Lisa Falkson originally posted on

Cab and hired car companies would love to know how safely their drivers are operating their vehicles. Without systems built directly into the car, how can this information be gathered?

What should be measured: certain information gathered during the driving experience can be related to driver safety. For example, a large number of hard brakes can indicate that a driver is operating the vehicle unsafely. Similarly, consistently driving at an excessive speed indicates a driver safety issue.

How to gather data: it is possible to gather data either from a smartphone or viaOBD (on-board diagnostics) device. The advantage to the smartphone is that it can have some context, for example, where the driver was before they entered the car. OBDs are also unable to get information on user’s distraction due to SMS, text, phone calls and other usage.

In addition, data gathering via mobile phone can be consistent across different automobiles, which may have different hardware on board.


Here is the list of items reported by a leading product in this industry:

• vehicle entry or exit

• vehicle identification

• driver or passenger identification

• rapid acceleration

• speeding

• hard brake

• distracted driving

• crash

• rough road

• weather

• high crime or accident

This phone sensor product can also detect who is handling the phone, whether it is the passenger or driver. This information could be crucial in determining driving safety, as a large percentage of accidents are caused by user distractions with cell phones.

It is easy to see how this data can be pulled to create a scored safety metric for a given driver. Both companies with a product in this field have a score-based system, with scores topping out at 100.

Informing the driver: drivers can also receive crowd and cloud sourced data, such as: road hazards, traffic flows and impediments, accident and crime hotspots, school and hospital zones. With this added information, drivers can be more aware of their surroundings and are less likely to have an accident.


One can envision a world in which all hired drivers – from taxis to all other fleet-operated vehicles are scored based on their safety. These safety scores could be used to influence driver wages, promotions and could even be the basis for job security. Customers would be able to choose a company or driver based on the highest safety scores.

Would you be more likely to hire a car service with higher driver safety scores as measured by one of these vehicle-agnostic phone sensor products? Share your opinion in our comment section.

By | 2015-08-05T06:53:30+00:00 August 5th, 2015|Categories: Product Experts|