Roads are essential to the world economy, linking people and products through a variety of transport. The freight and haulage sector are at the heart of this, with commercial road-going vehicles, such as trucks, making up a large portion of the way goods are moved across countries and between borders. Last year alone, more than 10.8 billion tons of freight were transported across the United States.
Operating large commercial vehicles takes a great deal of precision and skill. Drivers must undertake rigorous training to ensure they can effectively manage and maneuver their trucks safely and proficiently. However, driving can also be highly pressurized with numerous demands placed on drivers, including working to tight deadlines, operating in confined spaces and travelling in difficult conditions, such as harsh weather or darkness. Drivers must also be able to concentrate for long periods and be prepared to work alone for lengthy stretches.
There’s no doubt that working as a commercial driver is a demanding job and that safety is a top priority for fleet operators. However, driver fatigue and distractions can still cause serious hazards for drivers and other road users. Worldwide, it is estimated that between 10-20% of all road crashes are fatigue-related, while approximately 8% are caused by the driver being distracted.
Here's how technology is helping to prevent accidents, minimize distractions and reduce driver fatigue.
Eliminating blind spots with active vehicle safety systems
While driver visibility can be aided by passive systems, such as mirrors and cameras, these still require driver input in order to spot objects or people. In the time it takes a driver to check mirrors and react, a vehicle could travel as far as 33 feet, even at speeds as low as 3mph. If, for any reason, the driver is not looking at their mirror at a precise moment, because their concentration is elsewhere, then this can cause problems.
A camera or mirror alone will not alert a driver should a person or object be in a blind spot. If the driver is not looking, they will not see that something is in the immediate vicinity of their vehicle. This is why vehicle safety systems that require a driver to take immediate action through the provision of audible alerts and warning sounds are crucial to maintaining the highest road safety standards. These active systems will notify a driver instantaneously when a vehicle or object is in their blind spot, ensuring a driver can react immediately and prevent a collision.
Preventing false alerts
Ultrasonic detection systems have helped to save countless lives by warning the driver of moving and stationary objects nearby and alerting vulnerable road users of a vehicle’s proximity. Cost-effective and reliable, the sensor systems are fitted to the sides, rear and front of the vehicle to detect objects in blind spots, where cyclists or pedestrians can otherwise go undetected. Latest developments mean the sensors now offer predictive technology to gather detection data, such as the speed, direction and distance of a cyclist from the vehicle. This data is used to calculate the risk of collision, which significantly reduces the threat of false alarms, helping to prevent driver fatigue and increasing confidence in warning sounds.
Remote fleet management
As well as supporting driver training, installing vehicle CCTV provides a range of other benefits. These include providing proof against insurance claims, providing protection for drivers who may have been wrongly accused as the cause of an incident, providing irrefutable evidence in the case of accidents and legal proceedings, and encouraging driver best practice, resulting in less vehicle damage and fewer accidents. Additionally, vehicle CCTV also helps to deter vandalism and offers peace of mind for passengers and drivers.
While vehicle CCTV has been available for many years, improvements in functionality and usability, such as 4G connectivity, are paving the way for a rise in remote fleet management resulting in greater efficiency, reduced costs and enhanced safety for operators.