With the overwhelming use of technology in today’s world, it’s no surprise to hear that truck drivers are being monitored by their employers more than ever before. And the move towards a more strictly watched fleet on our roads should be viewed as an employers’ need to keep truck drivers as accountable as possible and the roads as safe as possible.
According to a report in Forbes online, an increasing number of trucks are now outfitted with systems to locate vehicles, monitor speed and driving habits, and even stop a truck headed for an accident.
GA Truckers Feel They’re Being Watched Too Closely
For some truck drivers, it seems the new system of monitoring by employers is too much of an infringement on their privacy. But the benefits of the high-tech and remote monitoring are too many to ignore. Unsafe truck drivers post a risk to all motorists on the highways.
Last year a study published in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion revealed that although commercial trucks only represent 8% of traffic on U.S. highways, they are involved in 11% of fatal accidents. This indicates a need for stricter safety controls, and remote monitoring seems to be leading the way.
In the past, trucking companies may have been able to track a truck’s route by the log book a trucker kept or the drop-off sites where they stopped. Now, companies are able to track where an 18-wheeler went, how fast it got there, and what the driver did along the way.
Built-In Safety Systems Improve Driver Safety
Satellite tracking and cellular technology, similar to the technologies used in smart phones, are used by trucking companies to monitor their fleets. These systems were initially deployed to make the trucking industry more efficient, allowing companies to monitor productivity and drive times in light of strict government regulations. But the safety effects are undeniable and could even help protect companies from facing charges of negligence.
RydeSmart from Ryder System Inc., a company that provides rental and lease trucks as well as support systems for fleet management, allows trucks to be tracked with the use of an iPhone or iPad. It delivers information on drive times, times spent idling, mileage, location data, and route history.
Another option, SmartDrive Systems, is a video-based tool that allows them to see when drivers are engaging in dangerous behavior like driving too closely, braking too hard, or speeding. GreenRoad is a web-based safety monitoring device that the manufacturer claims can lead to a 60% decrease in accident-related costs. An in-cab display shows the drivers green, yellow, or red lights to reflect their driving behavior.
As time goes on, these safety systems are improving. Ryder is working on a built-in system that can initiate braking when an accident is ahead. Like passenger vehicle safety features, we will hopefully get to a point where options like this become standard in the interest of highway safety.
Though truckers are most concerned about on-board cameras, a number of the monitoring devices are have provoked complaints from drivers. But, it’s believed they may play a role in recent reductions in accident rates.
The American Transportation Research Institute announced in a study last year that heavy trucks experienced a 24.6% decline in the crash-rate index between 2000 and 2010. Safety features like this along with stricter standards from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could have something to do with the drop in large truck accidents.
Still, medium trucks during this same period experienced a dramatic increase in the crash-index, jumping 38.3%. Perhaps rather than move away from onboard monitoring, as some truck drivers would prefer, the systems should be expanded to smaller trucks as well.
Trucks are dangerous when they are traveling down the road, even when they are obeying the speed limit. The safer we can make them, the better, even if it means a little discomfort on the part of the drivers.