Monthly Archives: November 2017

Your November Holiday Safety Update

With millions of people set to hit the nation’s roads during a busy holiday season, safe driving practices are never more necessary, and that goes for both passenger car operators and truck drivers.

The high volume of vehicle traffic on the road during the holidays creates a complex problem for those on the road, from increased congestion to a major reduction in overall speed.

Safe Holiday Travel Tips

This high volume of road traffic makes safe driving measures more important than ever, especially as individuals make their way across the nation to see loved ones. One trucking safety advocacy group has even come out with an Instructional Video that spreads trucking safety messages to motorists.

The eight-minute video features professional truck drivers and provides a comprehensive look at different safe-driving habits that directly impact truckers. Fortunately, the video has already been seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Every trucking safety advocacy group will tell you their goal is to ensure the safest highways possible, and considering the trucking industry invests billions in safety technologies, the last thing they want is for that investment to be in vain.

The following safe driving tips apply to both professional truck drivers and anyone else sharing the road with them this holiday season.

  • Make sure to buckle your safety belt.
  • Ensure maximum visibility by removing snow and ice from your vehicle before hitting the road.
  • Drive slower than necessary, especially in cold, windy, icy or snowy conditions.
  • Remember that when you drive faster than surrounding traffic, you triple your chances of winding up in a collision.
  • Always be mindful of your blind spots, whether you are driving a passenger car or heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle.
  • Stay focused on the road, as distracted driving is one of the major reasons for road accidents today.
  • Avoid cutting people off, especially large trucks.
  • Always check your vehicle to ensure wipers, fluids, and other critical maintenance items are all in working order before you get in and turn the key.

You also want to make sure you are getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated. Spending long hours in a vehicle can be more taxing on your system than you may expect. Be prepared by preparing ahead of time.

Volvo Doubles Down on Safety

In the world of trucking industry safety advocacy, Volvo Truck’s Traffic and Product Director Carl Johan Almqvist recently presented at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition. During his presentation, Almqvist stressed a common-sense approach to tackling trucking’s most vexing safety dilemmas.

“Every year, about 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic accidents worldwide. That’s the equivalent in lives lost to having 10 airliners crash every day. If that were to happen, we would ground all airplanes,” he said.

He went on to point to the fact that we should never be okay with a feeling of complacence, or persistent thought that “it will never happen to me.” He stressed that even one highway fatality is one too many, and noted that Volvo’s vision is to produce trucks that can lay claim to zero accidents.

He also outlined a 2017 report that found the most important focus areas for increased safety in trucking. They included:

  • More seat belt use;
  • Better truck driver awareness;
  • Better visibility both inside and outside the cab;
  • Direct feedback coaching and training initiatives, and;
  • Active safety system development.

The fact is, the trucking industry can still do much more to improve safety outcomes both on and off the road. It is good to see manufacturers getting in on the action. All players within the trucking industry have a stake in seeing improved safety on our nation’s roads.

So, as you set out this holiday season, please take greater care on the roads. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

The NTSB Makes New Recommendations

There is a lot going on in the world of safety-in-trucking and we are right here ready to report on all of it for you, our loyal readers.

In our latest blog post, we wanted to cover in greater detail some of the new guidance released by the NTSB. Let’s dive in.

NTSB on Collision Avoidance Systems

According to a recent statement released by the director of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Office of Highway Safety, Rob Molloy, collision avoidance technology could dramatically improve the safety of both truck drivers and those on the road around them.

His comments came during a November 15 meeting of the NTSB designed to report on progress in addressing the NTSB’s 2017-2018 Most Wanted List. Released November of 2016, the List was created to identify the areas where safety improvements can make a large impact.

They outlined the following:

  • Aviation;
  • Highway;
  • Marine;
  • Pipeline;
  • Hazardous materials, and;
  • Rail.

The goal is to see safety improvements on each of those factors and across the various modes of transportation they utilize.

According to Molloy, the highest truck-related accidents the NTSB investigation uncovered happened when a truck doesn’t stop in time and hits vehicles in front of it. He then went on to site an incident where a truck that could have had safety equipment installed but didn’t crashed into a passenger car and killed the occupants.

What Else is on The List?

While the focus of Molloy’s comments were on collision avoidance systems, he also touched on other priorities on the Most Wanted List, which included:

  • The safe shipment of hazardous materials;
  • Reducing truck driver alcohol and drug impairment;
  • Requiring medical fitness certificates;
  • Finding ways to further decrease incidents of distracted driving;
  • Strengthen occupant protection inside the cab;
  • Expand the use of event-recording technology, and;
  • Improve intermodal oversight, specifically in the area of rail transit safety and loss of control in aviation.

The NTSB further goes on – in its list – to recommend that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require all heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle operators to install video-event recorders. This recommendation will go a long way to providing actionable data both fleets and inspectors can use in real-time.

The agency wants access to actionable data that can be used to assess performance, safety measures, and other critical metrics and indicators.

The Black Box and Sleep Apnea

Another member of the NTSB’s review board, Bella Dinh-Zarr, stated that the agency does not “have the event data recorders in trucks that we have in many vehicles. It’s quite unpopular because people think it’s Big Brother. It’s a way to ensure truckers keep themselves safe, as well as everyone else on the road.”

What Dinh-Zarr was referring to were the devices known within the trucking industry as “black boxes.” These diminutive devices are essentially near-constant data recorders that track everything that happens with the vehicle. They can be used to find useful information in the event of a crash.

Finally, the NTSB issued a statement on sleep apnea, recommending that the FMCSA devise a program that will allow investigators to pinpoint truck drivers who may be at a greater risk for sleep apnea. It then recommends the FMCSA require that drivers who are singled out get a medical clearance certificate from a medical professional. Approved databases of such medical professionals are made available to fleet truck drivers.

So, what’s next? Well, the NTSB is an independent federal agency and its recommendations are the largest tool in its toolbox. Does this mean industry is forced to comply? No, but generally when the NTSB makes recommendations, the industry needles move.

Advanced Driver Assistance Safety Technologies Save Lives

Here is the plain truth: Advanced driver assistance systems could save the trucking industry millions of dollars, but more importantly they can help save thousands of lives. Yet, while the trucking industry increasingly embraces these technologies, there are still a lot of outliers that question their feasibility.

There is Room for Improvement

Can we do better? Certainly. In a 2015 study completed by the Boston Consulting Group, it was found that when driver assistance safety technologies are used, nearly 30 percent of crashes could be averted. When you consider that in 2015 there were over 4,300 large truck-related crashes where there was a fatality, that 30 percent suddenly becomes quite significant.

You can also factor in the whopping $2.4 billion in property damage and nearly $50 billion in societal harm. Even more disconcerting, up to 90 percent of those crashes can be attributed to human error. If a fleet can install a system to lower that number, everyone benefits.

There are several different types and categories of driver assistance safety technologies. They include:

  • Forward collision warning systems;
  • Collision mitigation systems;
  • Blind spot monitoring and alert systems;
  • Lane departure warning systems;
  • … and more!

To see these technologies make a significant impact in the annual accident rate, we will need to see widespread industry acceptance and adoption. Although technology companies are making huge progress in developing these systems, many trucking companies have yet to catch on to the trend. This is especially true for smaller fleets.

But why?

Follow the Money

As with just about anything else in this world, if you want an answer to a tough question, it’s best to follow the money. When it comes to advanced safety systems, fleets have one question: How will this pay me back?

Of course, it is easier for larger fleets to take the long view on advanced safety system return on investment. Larger fleets have the resources to step back and take a holistic look. Asking how an out-of-commission tractor factors in to down-time cost should be a factor in choosing to utilize advanced safety systems, but it is harder for smaller operations to come around to that view. The smaller the fleet, the longer the time it takes to recoup large investments in equipment or technology.

The problem is this: When a fleet decides to either forgo safety technologies or use cheap, untested versions, they are doing very little to lower their risk level and, if anything, may be raising it. If a truck driver relies on a poorly manufactured technology and it fails, that could increase the risk of an accident.

If there is one safety technology that is seeing an uptick in adoption – outside of ABS and electronic stability control, which is mandated in many instances – it is that of forward collision warning systems. Adaptive cruise control is also becoming more popular.

The best part? For fleets who have put the time, money and effort into investing in these technologies, the dividends are paying off in real-world ways. Schneider, as one example, reportedly eliminated 70 percent of the rear-end collisions they were reporting as a result of adopting collision mitigation systems. Even more astonishingly, the severity of crashes that did happen were reduced by a whopping 95 percent.

Still, there is a long way to go. Small fleets must be given a greater profit-motive for adopting these technologies. Furthermore, technologies such as lane departure and lane keeping systems, have yet to catch on in any real meaningful way.

Yet, as the economy continues to expand and the trucking industry puts more and more trucks on the road, we will have to reach a point where a critical mass of industry players, both large and small, see the benefit to advanced safety technologies and finally make the switch.


Advanced Safety Tech Recommendations Are Back In The Spotlight

Have you heard? The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security – better known within the industry as the Trucking Alliance – has come out stating that in order for fleets to qualify for membership, they must adopt what the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety calls “critical” to reducing crashes and fatalities.

The qualification standards surround four trucking-specific safety technologies:

  1. Lane Departure Warning Systems;
  2. Video Safety Systems;
  3. Automatic Emergency Brake Systems, and;
  4. Air Disc Brakes.

In their statement in support of these initiatives, the Trucking Alliance specifically mentioned situations wherein such technologies could make a significant difference were there a potential accident.

Lane departure warning systems reduce on-road crashes by helping to keep truck drivers in their lanes if they get drowsy or distracted. Technologies that utilize video and sensor systems are helpful for truck driver recruiting, training, retention, motivation, and so much more. They can also be used in real-time to alert the truck driver of potential safety situations.

Advanced sensors systems also alert truck drivers and technicians in situations where a mechanical failure is imminent. All of this combines to form a more effective level of safety for both truck driver, fleet, and every-day drivers on our nation’s highways.

While they are still not widespread in adoption, automatic emergency braking systems can detect when a tractor is in danger of hitting an object in front of it. If needed, the system can apply the appropriate amount of brake pressure independent of the truck driver. Air disc brakes play a similar safety role, by the simple fact that they are far superior to drum brakes.

In arguing their position on this, the Trucking Alliance’s Steve Williams stated that, “These technologies can make the highways safer for our drivers and the public and [that’s] why the Trucking Alliance carriers are installing them on new trucks. The AAA Foundation report shows how these automated technologies can help commercial drivers and motorists avoid accidents and return home safely to their families.”

One thing the AAA Foundation does highlight is that a good percentage of today’s modern fleets are already incorporating these technologies into their standard operating practices. Still, the Trucking Alliance is the first to make adoption of these technologies a requirement for entry into membership with the organization.

What Was in the Report

The AAA Foundation report took a careful look at these technologies and how they have made an impact on trucking safety measures. When the data is broken down, it isn’t hard to see why the Trucking Alliance felt this was a good time, and good issue, to take a stand on.

As an example, the report found that if automatic braking systems and air disc brakes together were installed on every truck, it would prevent:

  • Over 7,700 accidents;
  • 92 fatalities, and;
  • 4,200 injuries.

The report also took a look at the kind of different universally-installed on-board camera and sensor and lane departure systems were installed. Per the report, this change would prevent:

  • Over 69,300 large truck crashes;
  • 408 fatalities, and;
  • 24,105 injuries.

These are truly staggering numbers. Imagine the difference this would make in people’s lives. Of course, the AAA Foundation was overjoyed at this development, as can be seen in their statement in response to the move.

AAA president and CEO Marshall Doney was quoted as saying that, ““AAA applauds the Trucking Alliance for taking such an important step toward improving safety on U.S. roads. Adding key safety technologies to fleets is critical if we are to reverse the growing rate of crash deaths on our roadways.”

While no one expects these technologies to receive industry-wide adoption any time soon, every step closer and every new fleet that adopts one or all of them takes one step closer to better safety, which is good for everyone.