Trucking safety technology is imperative for the growth and safety of the trucking sector.
The trucking industry plays a crucial role in the US economy, being responsible for transporting more cargo than trains, ships, and planes combined. As per the US Census Bureau, trucking is the most common occupation in 29 states.
However, there is a concerning downside to the industry as an estimated 500,000 truck-related accidents occur annually in the US, with approximately 5,000 of these leading to fatalities.
Surprisingly, these accidents are more prevalent in rural areas and occur more frequently on dry roads and in fair weather conditions.
While the majority of these incidents are caused by cars and driver fatigue, reckless driving on the part of the truck operator is also among the common contributing factors.
Additionally, faulty truck parts such as steering wheels, brakes, tires, and engines can also be responsible for causing accidents. Tragically, these accidents result in the deaths of approximately 700 truck drivers and 3,700 drivers and passengers of other vehicles annually.
Fortunately, advancements in modern trucking technology have led to the development of new safety protocols that can improve the safety of both truckers and other motorists. In this blog post, we shall discuss trucking safety technology in detail, along with top technologies that are significantly improving safety within the trucking industry.
The trucking sector, like numerous other industries, has been influenced by recent and developing technologies that enhance efficiency, safety, and workflow.
Both fleet owners and drivers can manage hauls and maintain safety on the road more comfortably, thanks to technological progress.
From enhanced driver comfort to the revolution of electric vehicles to self-driving trucks to AI applications, technology is significantly transforming the trucking industry.
Trucking safety technology is integral to the industry. Here are some of the latest technologies that fleet owners and managers should consider investing in.
There were 119,000 accidents resulting in injuries involving large trucks in 2019. As safety is of utmost importance in the trucking industry, it comes as no surprise that collision mitigation technology is one of the fastest-growing technologies in the sector.
Advanced collision mitigation systems utilize video, radar, and sensor technologies to monitor the surroundings continuously. These systems alert drivers in real time when they detect potential collisions, allowing drivers to take evasive action and prevent accidents. If the driver does not take action, the system can take automatic action.
One such system is Omnitracs SmartDrive SmartSense, which provides real-time alerts and warnings for various risky behaviors like distracted driving, lane departure, speeding in adverse weather conditions, and following too closely. This system uses sensors with engine telematics, computer vision, and accelerometer data.
Apart from enhancing safety and potentially saving lives, collision mitigation systems can also help fleet owners avoid losses and legal action resulting from accidents that can be prevented.
Although federal regulations allow truck drivers to drive for a maximum of 11 hours at a stretch, it has been observed through surveys that many drivers knowingly disregard this rule. Furthermore, driver fatigue can occur among drivers who comply with the existing protocols due to human error.
To prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, driver alert systems are crucial. These systems are becoming more effective with the advancement of technology and the use of algorithms, allowing them to detect a driver's drowsiness more accurately and warn them to take a break.
One example of such a system is the driver drowsiness detection device provided by Bosch Mobility Solutions, which evaluates the level of drowsiness by analyzing factors such as the time of day, frequency of turn signal use, trip duration, and the driver's steering behavior over time.
If the driver displays prolonged periods of inactivity followed by sudden wheel turning, it may indicate that they have dozed off and had to correct their course to stay in the correct lane quickly.
Several other innovative devices are also available, such as hats or bracelets that monitor the driver's drowsiness levels or front-facing cameras that measure biodata like age, weight, and average sleep per night.
The drivers of large trucks are especially concerned with their visual limitations, but cameras can provide a simple solution. By offering a clear view of the back of the truck, cameras can help drivers identify blind spots while they are on the move.
For instance, Rosco Vision is a company that specializes in providing fleets with top-quality safety products, and they install three cameras on the back and sides of the truck. The images and live audio feeds captured by these cameras are synchronized and displayed on a single, high-resolution LCD screen.
Other companies, such as Rearview Systems, also offer weather-proof and shock-resistant cameras, enabling drivers to view images from angles of 120, 130, or 150 degrees. In any case, these specialized cameras go the extra mile to help drivers detect blind spots and other traffic hazards.
Leading transportation management systems integrate with ELDs (electronic logging devices) to make life easier and smooth for both fleet owners and truck drivers. All commercial drivers are required to use ELDs.
Advancements in ELDs have come a long way, improving efficiency and workflow. A TMS system integrating with ELD offers smart route planning, built-in barcode scanners, and signature capture for proof of delivery, load information, task lists, and more.
Enhancing driver comfort can lead to increased attentiveness and decreased highway fatigue, making it more likely for drivers to remain alert. This not only benefits fleet owners by boosting employee satisfaction but also helps make life on the road easier for truck drivers.
A range of technologies is currently available to improve driver comforts, such as seats that alleviate pressure points, advanced steering systems, ergonomic dashboards and controls, improved communication and information systems, more storage options and adaptable in-cab living spaces, ambient LED lights, in-cab training systems that encourage physical activity during long trips, cab heaters, and parked HVAC systems, and coaching systems that provide safe driving tips.
As trucking companies focus on retaining their workforce, further advancements in truck seating and other comfort-focused features are expected to emerge.
Being proactive instead of reactive is crucial for ensuring truck safety, and fleet managers can achieve this through the use of artificial intelligence (AI).
AI can be particularly helpful in fleet and staff management, as it can analyze vast amounts of data from the trips of all trucks in a fleet to provide valuable insights. By analyzing driver behavior, AI can identify those who are not meeting safety protocols and recommend coaching to address their shortcomings.
The development of self-driving trucks is another application of AI that is gaining popularity, especially since the successful trial run by TuSimple in collaboration with the US Postal Service in 2019.
This 22-hour trip from Phoenix to Dallas demonstrated the potential of self-driving trucks, which could eventually make roads safer, particularly on less crowded country roads where accidents are more common.
AI is proving to be a fleet manager's best friend when it comes to truck safety, helping to prevent accidents and promote a more efficient and secure transport industry. The trucking industry also uses Internet of Things (IoT) fleet management solutions and AI technology to optimize routes and load matching.
The trucking industry is undergoing a significant transformation thanks to a range of exciting technologies benefiting drivers and fleet owners.
With improved safety, increased comfort, and streamlined workflows, technology is redefining the role of truckers and transportation companies in today's world.
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