New advances in truck technology are definitely designed to make the roads safer for all drivers, but companies still need to worry about cost.
A July article on Truckinginfo.com discussed the benefits of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) systems as well as the barriers to implementing them which were discussed at a roundtable hosted by the National Safety Council and the National Transportation Safety Board. Attendees included representatives from the trucking industry, OEMs, leaders in driving assistance technology, and more.
This group was not discussing autonomous vehicles which are still a long ways off; rather, they discussed collision mitigation technology, including alerts and automatic braking. Many new trucks now come equipped with this technology, but what if you own or lease an older model, or even a current model without ADAS? It can be costly to retrofit an existing vehicle and it takes time to train drivers in the proper usage of it.
And, as the article notes, some fleets feel that they have been “burned” by older problematic versions of collision mitigation systems. They are, understandably, reluctant to be pulled into testing, paying for, and deploying the newer technology. Yes, it is understandable, but here is the reality. Whether it’s the fault of the truck driver or the fault of a reckless automobile driver, as NSC President and CEO Deborah Hersman notes, “We have to face the fact that heavy-duty vehicles can cause a disproportionate impact in certain events.”
Personally, I am a huge proponent of driver-assisted technology for a number of reasons. Human safety is of course the main reason. But there are others: consider the ROI of maintaining fleet safety with new technology vs. the cost of an accident in property and human liability. Another reason revolves around the ongoing driver shortage. One of the most difficult issues we fact is attracting millennials to look at truck driving as a career, but new technology is often a draw for this age group…and safety matters for them as well.
However, if deploying expensive ADAT technology is something you’re not ready to do, here’s a more affordable example; in-cab driver cams. These can be easily retrofit into older and newer models and take little to no training. At the NPTC Conference, I stopped by the Guardian booth to view this technology. Their camera monitors the driver’s face to note expressions of fatigue (sleep deprivation or fatigue is, as we all know, an alarming, yet avoidable, cause of some accidents). The camera has an infrared sensor that scans the driver’s face and if it identifies signs of tiredness or fatigue, the driver is alerted through audio alerts and their seat vibrates, thus allowing the driver to react quickly. The incident is then logged into the SafeGuard Center to see if additional instances might occur with this driver and then promote intervention.
Another option is an on-board driver camera. Driver cameras can record an accident inside and outside of the truck. These tiny on-board cameras also note when and how often the vehicle drifts across lanes or the driver brakes hard too often. The data captured is then relayed back to the dispatch office and the driver’s manager so that this can result in a teachable moment.
Whatever your decision, you should know that options are available; however, there is no option for making your fleet as safe as possible. Read the full article.