What are the Benefits of Important Fleet Safety Technologies?

April 14, 2021Fleetworthy
What are the Benefits of Important Fleet Safety Technologies?

The Benefits of Some Important Fleet Safety Technologies

Long-haul truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in America.  Trucking companies need to upgrade their fleet to mitigate accident risks and improve overall safety because the technology is here.  When looking at the bigger picture, the price of implementing new safety technologies is nominal when compared to the price of collisions – it can quickly skyrocket in costs when injuries and fatalities are involved.  With so many different new technologies on the market, how do fleets determine the best fleet safety technology for them?  For fleets to determine which of these fleet safety technologies to use, they must first consider the following factors:

Usability

Fleet safety technology may be difficult for managers and operators to adopt if they involve a lot of new safety data they may view as additional work and increased liability.

                A good safety technology tool must be:

  • easy to use
  • easy to act upon
  • easy to integrate with systems already in use
  • non-disruptive of daily routines or productivity
  • not time consuming
  • low maintenance for non-tech savvy managers
  • a digestible and manageable source of data

Return on Investment (ROI)

The ROI of predictive fleet safety technology is difficult to measure. It takes time and a lot of analysis to fully appreciate the ROI of good fleet safety technology. With a relatively small initial cost for many of the safety technologies currently available and very little required maintenance, vehicle safety systems can be a smart investment for fleets and improve safety for everyone.

If budget is limited, the most bang for the buck of all fleet safety technologies are predictive and preventive tools that mitigate risk before the driver takes off. Preventive measures like impairment tests could reduce the need for more expensive safety technology.  If your fleet is large and expansive with visible daily risk, a more complex safety feature such as collision mitigation might also present a good ROI.

Acceptance by Drivers

For new fleet safety technology to be accepted by drivers, it needs to be simple enough to use and not intrude upon their privacy or comfort while at work.  This final point brings up the importance of training and communication before implementing any new fleet safety technology. Drivers should be thoroughly trained on how to use the new technology. If drivers are not comfortable using them, it will not only be a waste of time and money but also further exacerbate safety problems by confusing and overburdening drivers.

The best fleet safety technology for your company will depend on many factors including:

  • Size of your fleet
  • Demographics of your drivers
  • Resources of your management team
  • Current technology you use and the routines you have
  • Safety risks you’ve identified within your operations
  • Your budget

For any fleet safety technology to be effective and provide a high ROI, fleet owners and managers must thoroughly consider all these factors before making an investment.  The following are some of the more popular safety technologies being used today:

Collision Warning and Mitigation 

Driver distraction or inattention can be mitigated with collision warning or accident avoidance technologies such as:

  • Automatic emergency breaking (AEB)
  • Lane assist technology to alert drivers when the vehicle unintentionally drifts into another lane
  • Lane keeping technology to correct unintentional drifting into another lane
  • Proximity alerts such as LiDAR sensors which estimate distance and create high-resolution 3D images of truck surroundings

Advanced collision mitigation systems are incorporating more sensing technology to monitor for crashes of various kinds and can take emergency action to avoid them. Today’s systems also are cutting down on the number of false positives that the first such products years ago tended to give. Because of the obvious benefits they can offer if they work properly, collision mitigation systems are becoming standard on many new trucks—typically with the ability to opt out—and can be retrofitted to older trucks as well.

Installing collision mitigation technology in the vehicles help reduce the chances of such accidents. Some of these systems can monitor the streets and detect impending obstacles using advanced sensing technology. This warns the driver of impending problems and also helps prevent losing control of the wheel which causes truck accidents.

Video/Dash Cameras

Video/dash camera technology was mentioned by several companies as a state-of-the-art technology that will greatly influence improved safety for fleet managers in the future.

Smart video makes safety programs easier to manage and more effective than they could be with traditional telematics only.  Video takes telematics to another level by being able to give context and identify positive driver behaviors that telematics cannot detect.  Some actionable information fleets can assess with this technology include alerts and playback on accidents, hard braking, rapid acceleration, distracted driving, traffic signal violations, stop sign violations, tailgating, seatbelt compliance, U-turn violations, etc.

But the real game changer will lie within technology that enables managers to be proactive about these incidents. For example, leveraging sensors that can warn about safety-related events before they happen, or in-cab alerts that engage a driver if they’re displaying distracted behavior.  In-cab camera systems have been around for some years now and established themselves as the familiar “dash cam.” And they’ve been getting better and better in terms of quality during that time.

Probably first and foremost, the reason fleets implement video in their trucks is to defend the fleet and driver in case of collisions and potential phony insurance claims. For one thing, those looking for a payday can make a false claim or even try to run into a truck, knowing that fleets can be a nice, juicy target.   It’s in the interests of both public safety and preserving profitability for fleets to reduce avoidable collisions to an absolute minimum.  That’s particularly the case for fleets hauling fuel and other dangerous materials, since a crash can mean more damage and very expensive cleanup.

Telematics Devices

With nuclear verdicts and insurance costs on the rise, fleet safety will remain top of mind for every transportation company and in turn, technology innovation to support these safety initiatives will be more important than ever. The telematics technology has played a major part in contributing to driver safety, with capabilities that allow managers to monitor driver behavior and observe overall road safety.  Investment in telematics is critical and the industry knows it. The proliferation of telematics solutions in the fleet industry has been rising and will continue its upward trajectory as the technology grows and develops in terms of what it offers fleets.  Over the last decade, the North American commercial telematics market grew from approximately 2 million units in service to 6.4 million units, according to a 2019 study from C.J. Driscoll & Associates.

Driver Scorecards

A driver scorecard is a type of driver performance evaluation based on specific driving metrics, such as speeding or idling, that are measured via a GPS fleet tracking or telematics system.  These scorecards can be used by fleet and safety managers to track risky behavior and then determine which drivers need additional training.  They can also use the scorecards to identify the best drivers in the fleet to reward them for their safety practices.

The number one reason driver scorecards are used is to help improve driver safety and reduce the amount of collisions and claims.  In addition, scorecards are effective for increasing fleet productivity, improving vehicle health and increasing compliance or reducing violations.

Driver Alert Systems

These Alert Systems include:

Impairment tests detect driver fatigue, illness, intoxication, distress and other sources of impairment before a driver gets behind the wheel.  Impairment tests are one of the most effective ways of reducing driver-related accidents and eliminating risks before an accident can happen.

Currently, there is an impairment test available and viable in workplaces. It is a 60-second cognitive alertness test taken on a smartphone or tablet.  When impairment is detected, the app notifies a supervisor.  It has been found effective in increasing driver alertness, decreasing instances of impaired driving, decreasing worker’s comp claims, and decreasing employee turnover.

Intelligent Compliance Platforms

These compliance platforms provide increased visibility and control into fleet safety management so that companies can streamline processes, reduce risk, and improve the bottom line.  These solutions allow you to manage all your DOT compliance and safety data that is flowing in from multiple sources.  The data streams are simplified and housed in one place, and you are provided with centralized visibility through an online dashboard.

While seatbelts have made the cabin of any vehicle a much safer environment, more technology and innovation will fuel the future of truck safety.  Not only will the above technology safety features help keep their drivers and other road users safe, but it will save money in the long run.  A safer fleet will help protect your company’s reputation and demonstrates your commitment to safety.

Sources:

“Trucking Industry Safety Tech: Why Upgrades are Needed Now for Safety and to Avoid Shipping Disruptions”, Adam Robinson, Transportation.

“Top 5 Technologies for Improving Fleet Safety”, Chad Veach, EMC Insurance.

“7 Best Fleet safety Technologies”, Peri Eryigit, October 12, 2020.