Monthly Archives: February 2018

Is Platooning Really Safe?

Some are asking the critical question: Is it really safe for two Class 8 heavy duty commercial motor vehicles to tailgate one another? Many states across the country – and even globally – are currently weighing this very question. The emergence of platooning technology has ignited a safety debate where the questions remain elusive.

Companies pushing platooning technologies contend that the emergence of technologies that couple with vehicle-to-vehicle communications would allow digitally connected vehicles to follow each other at a close distance without any safety problems. This digital linking of trucks would allow the truck drivers to – not literally – take a back seat. Trucks would both accelerate and brake together.

Platooning Has Advantages

Platooning does save on fuel in many cases. It does this through a process called “slipstreaming,” which allows a vehicle to ride the wake of the vehicle immediately in front of it. Some say that when a truck rides the wake of a vehicle in front of it, fuel savings can amount to up to 10 percent. When you add those numbers up across the industry, you are looking at savings that add up to lots of money.

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 72 percent of fatalities involving a large commercial motor vehicle happened when the truck hit another passenger car. Platooning proponents contend that the technologies built into platooning systems may go a long way to reducing those numbers.

They say that the real-time data gathering techniques and near-instantaneous reactions made by the technology installed on the truck can respond even quicker than a human can. There are generally cameras and sensors placed around the vehicle. Others say it is this very technology that could prove dangerous.

Platooning Has Disadvantages

Safety advocates wonder if platooning tractor-trailers is really safe. When discussing the technologies that are used in platooning, they are generally connected through a GPS, cellular, or strong WiFi connection. What if there is a disruption in the connection during a critical safety event?

Another question surrounds what the optimal distance between each vehicle should be. If the optimal distance is too close, would that make platooning inherently unsafe? Seconds count when it comes to following too closely, and if a large commercial motor vehicle is following too closely, might a machine be able to make a decision fast enough? There are two sides to the argument.

Platooning is Coming

No matter what safety advocates or platooning companies or fleets think about the issue, it is already being tested and is likely to appear on a road near you sometime within the next decade. All the talk is on semi-autonomous trucks, and platooning is simply an extension of this technology. Allowing a machine or series of sensors connected to a central computing unit to control a heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle is a lot closer than one may think.

Fortunately, there will always be a place for a truck driver in the cab. Even if trucks are platooned, there is no guarantee that their reaction time will be enough, so a human hand will always be desired. Of course, the overall goal is to lower the number of those injured or killed on our nation’s roads, and if platooning can get that done, then many say, why not give it a try?

A lot more testing still needs to be done, and many states are hard at it. In the end, whether or not we will see platooning blossom, and in what form, will depend on the platooning tests currently underway in several states. As companies and municipalities team up to test the viability of these technologies, expect to hear a lot more about how safe or unsafe platooning is.

How Truck Driver Training Plays A Huge Impact On Fleet Safety

There is plenty of evidence, whether anecdotal or actual studies, that show how truck driver training plays a huge impact on overall fleet safety outcomes. How you train and communicate with your truck drivers – how you communicate to them and show their worth – will give them greater incentive, both implicit and explicit, to ensure they do a better job driving on our nation’s roads.

When a fleet focuses on proper training and communication, they are better able to manage the perceptions of those in their fleet. How valued your truck drivers – and others who operate in your fleet – feel will play a direct impact on not just their motivation, but your CSA scores and overall fleet safety measures.

Going Above and Beyond for Safety

The best motor carriers know that going above and beyond to ensure the safety of their operators goes beyond merely providing job training or offering a newfangled perk. We are talking about career professional truck drivers here. No matter what kind of truck they are driving or technology they are using, they want to feel safe in the cab, and even more, know that the operation of their vehicles is keeping those on the road around them safe, as well.

Is your fleet playing a positive role to utilize training – whether new or ongoing – to improve overall safety measures? When you add a competitive training package, combined with good pay and proper truck driver recognition, you build a truly successful strategy for the future. With retention and the trucking employment squeeze an ongoing problem, you want to make sure you are tapping into and developing the full potential of your people – and training plays a critical role in ensuring that success.

Using Communication as a Key

Are you properly communicating your fleet safety goals to your truck drivers through comprehensive training efforts? Are your fleet managers or fleet safety directors interacting positively with those on the front line? Everyone who interacts with those operating your fleet’s should be reinforcing the same safety message.

In many cases, a truck driver’s direct supervisor plays one of the most important roles in how a truck driver views safe commercial motor vehicle operation. It comes down to how well that front-line supervisor communicates a message of safety. Is the truck driver a new employee on the line, or are they an old hand in the fleet, well-experienced and ready to hit the road? The answer to those questions should drive your motor carrier’s overall approach to the safety question.

Using Your Truck Drivers in Innovative Ways

Since experienced truck drivers are often the best truck drivers and have the lowest turnover rates, some fleets have turned to using them as mentors. Why not pair an experienced truck driver with someone who has just come out of training?

Not only does this instill a greater sense of confidence in your newer truck drivers, but it gives your experienced truck drivers a greater sense of buy-in within the overall company hierarchy. Statistics prove this. You can both improve overall safety measures and increase truck driver retention and motivation all at the same time.

With fleet’s forced to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of truck drivers, it is important that they think outside the box on both how they can increase safety, plus improve their overall retention rate. The only way to raise overall confidence both within motor carriers and industry-wide, attention must be paid to how truck drivers, old and new, are communicated with and paired together for greater safety outcomes.

How GPS Tracking Improves Fleet Safety

When a company relies on a fleet of vehicles to keep business flowing smoothly, safety is key. While keeping a close eye on every truck driver and every vehicle in a fleet – especially a large one – is nearly impossible, there are methods a fleet can use to improve their safety measures. One such way is through GPS tracking.

When a motor carrier can track their truck drivers and their vehicles down to a pinpointed location, you can easily see where safety measures can be drastically improved, from the truck driver to the dispatcher level. GPS technology can also go a long way in improving coaching and retention among truck drivers.

Gaining New Insight

Here are some essential questions to ask yourself regarding the truck drivers in your fleet:

  • Do you know how your truck drivers are behaving while they are behind the wheel?
  • Are you confident they are properly operating your expensive fleet equipment?
  • Do you have easy access to the data you need to show the speeds and driving methods involved in company accidents?

If your answer was no to any of these questions, then you may need to consider a GPS fleet tracking solution as an answer to your problems. What if you could receive alerts any time regarding where your truck drivers are or what they are doing? This also goes a long way to preventing truck driver theft.

When you have access to customizable reports and dashboards that quickly allow you to access fleet summaries and other safety-related data, you can develop trends and benchmarks to assist you in creating a proper fleet safety policy.

Want to determine best practices or better influence truck driver behaviors? The best way to do that may be through an on board GPS system. But what can you expect – in tangible terms – from utilizing a fleet wide GPS system?

Lower Insurance Costs

Insurance companies love it when motor carriers invest in GPS systems. They take comfort in knowing that the fleet is monitoring truck driver behavior and going a long way to preventing cargo theft. When a motor carrier implements a GPS fleet tracking solution, they can often decrease insurance premium costs. Does your insurance provider offer a discount for utilizing these services? If so, you may want to consider investing in them. Move into the 21st century with these kinds of technologies.

Lower Maintenance Costs

Face it: Bad driving takes a toll on your fleet’s vehicles. The best way to mitigate aggressive driving is to monitor how your truck drivers are operating their vehicles. Utilizing GPS systems helps you keep track of the wear-and-tear your vehicles undergo. To prevent extensive and expensive repairs, GPS systems help you keep the situation under control.

Lower Fines and Increase CSA Scores

Speeding problems, traffic infractions and accidents not only lead to potential injuries and liability problems, but they can be quite costly. When you can monitor events like excessive speeding, hard braking, unsafe lane changes, and more, you have a better handle on the outcomes that impact the direct maintenance and upkeep of your valuable investments.

Reducing Liability

From dangerous truck driving behavior to stolen cargo to unhealthy vehicles, all of these can play a role in negatively impacting your motor carrier’s bottom line. Why play with fate like that when you can use a fleet wide GPS system to directly impact those outcomes?

Your reputation is also at stake. When shippers, brokers, and other outfits you do business with feel comfortable knowing you are investing in technology that protects your business, they will be more inclined to trust the business you do with them. Why leave your bottom line to a hopeful wish and a prayer. Invest in GPS and do more than hope for the best.

 

Spring Driving Tips Every Professional Truck Driver Should Know

Any professional truck driver will tell you that you need a different set of skills for spring truck driving than you do for winter driving. But how many truck drivers actually know what these tips are? Not being able to tell the difference between a winter road and a spring road can be dangerous to not just the truck driver but to all those on the road around them.

Well, springs almost here. Are you ready for these essential spring truck driving tips? Let’s get started!

Spring Into Safe Driving

When was the last time you had seen a sign telling you to watch for ice on the side of the road while driving in a sunny location in Southern California. Situations like this should make every professional truck driver consider the different truck driving extremes presented by different seasons.

As winter snow melts, be sure to watch for spray kicked up by other road vehicles traveling through the slush. If there is no spray being kicked up and the road appears to be wet, it probably means the roads are icy. Be sure to check you mirrors and antenna as well. When temperatures drop below 35 degrees dampness can freeze if the surface of the road is colder than that.

It only takes a small amount of ice to cause you to lose control of your truck, which could change the trajectory of your entire day. You might also take caution when there are heavy winds. Understandably, lighter trailers are at a higher risk of blowing over, but heavy trucking trailers are at risk as well. Don’t leave anything for granted when it comes to the safety of your vehicle.

Where trucks may not exactly blow over, high winds can result in the truck going off to the side of road or for the truck to lose traction when roads are slick, which can lead to a crash.

Warm Weather Doesn’t Automatically Mean Safe Driving

When the weather begins to warm, wild animals start moving closer to highways. The ground closest to the pavement warms faster than the ground away from pavement, causing vegetation to grow faster in these areas. Wild animals set out toward vegetation when this happens and can make roads more dangerous for both truck drivers and those operating passenger vehicles.

Female deer can give birth as early as February and continue to fawn through July. When deer are pregnant, they need more vegetation and move at a slower pace. If one suddenly appears in front of you, it will be harder for them to move out of the way.

Wild animals are likely to be livelier near the highway around dusk and dawn. There are still plenty of wild animals out during the day and in complete darkness, so be alert.

If an animal jumps in front of your truck while driving down the highway, don’t panic, grip your steering wheel tightly and slow down without slamming on your breaks. This will keep your truck on a forward path making it safer for yourself and others around you. Deviating from the forward path has caused many trucking deaths and even more accidents involving other vehicles around the truck.

Keep an Eye on Four-Legged Friends

Remember deer are much smaller than your truck and hitting one may damage it, but it is much safer than swerving and possibly tipping over your truck and load. Your job will most likely be in tact for hitting a large animal but flipping the truck and ruining the goods in the trailer may cause a different outcome for your safety and the safety of your job.

The beginning of spring is the best time to check your truck’s air conditioning mechanism to ensure it is functioning at full capacity. It is getting warmer out and you’ll need it soon.

Always pay close attention to your truck tires’ condition to ensure they are in good shape for the warmer weather ahead. Examine your tires for deterioration and any indication of tire rot.

Keep these principles in mind and you will be  safe operator no matter the season!