Monthly Archives: April 2018

Trucking Safety Technology Update: A Fancy Headset For All Your Needs

Sure, you are probably thinking, “Why would a truck driver want to put a headset on? Isn’t that technically unsafe?” Yes, it is, but it also depends on the nature and use of the headset.

When combined with telematics and other advanced safety systems, a simple headset could have a number of uses. Sensors built into the headset act as a wearable, monitoring specific aspects of bodily functions and movements to catch potential fatigue, distraction, or risky driving behavior.

Test Runs

Many large trucking companies are already testing new technologies such as advanced headsets. One 1,100-truck motor carrier with primarily flatbed operations has decided to test an advanced telematic, sensor-equipped headset solution to assess the safety benefits.

Where headsets have benefits is in their flexibility. A wearable wrist-device only provides monitoring and feedback. A high-quality Bluetooth headset, on the other hand, provides a way for the operator to engage in hands-free communication. Truck drivers can get voice commands from navigation apps or even listen to music or have a conversation with dispatch if need be.

With a speaker over only one ear, the truck driver can still clearly hear everything that is going on in and around his or her vehicle. Even better, truck drivers will see this as an essential communication and entertainment tool, when in fact it would also be a vital safety device.

The sensors inside the headset are able to detect subtle movements of the head. They can sense if the operator is looking at a gauge on the dashboard, or objects in or around the vehicle. Once calibrated, the built-in sensors can also utilize an algorithm to detect head bobs, lack of movement, or other signs of drowsiness, fatigue, or sleep risk.

There’s An App for That

With the smartphone age upon us, there seems to be an app for anything and everything, including the safety headset, which can communicate with a Co-Pilot app. With the app pulled up on their smartphone, the truck drivers will receive real-time driving feedback and even provides scores to rate them on whether they are doing things like checking their mirrors in a timely fashion.

Since the entire solution is also built with the ability to communicate with a truck’s CAM, it can also provide real-time data and feedback regarding speed, braking, turns, and more. Users even have the ability to program their own voice as the recording alert should the system need to provide an alert or warning.

Fleet managers benefit by having access to a web portal that gives them truck driver risk and skill levels. Managers can use that data for friendly competitions or better calibrate truck driver behaviors through private meetings and coaching sessions based on the data.

If a fleet manager wants to see if their truck drivers are checking their mirrors before proceeding through an intersection, they can easily log into their portal and pull up either historical or real-time data on any operator within the fleet who is on the system.

Many wonder how well these systems will take in the face of truck driver skepticism. It’s no great secret that truck drivers are not fans of inward-facing cameras, so will they see these other technologies as an acceptable alternative?

Provided motor carriers are properly positioning these technologies as a way for a truck driver to advance, do a better job, perhaps get a bonus or be recognized in some other way, there is no reason why truck drivers on their payroll should see this as a bad thing.

Technology is already changing the way we drive commercial motor vehicles, maybe it is time to embrace how it will change our levels of safe driving.

How Proper Lighting Can Keep Your Maintenance Shop Safe

We talk a lot about truck driver safety, but what about the safety of others within your organization. Certainly, heavy duty vehicle maintenance shop environments across North America can also be unsafe environments. Yet, studies have found that one of the best ways to keep your shop technicians safe is to ensure their work environment is well lit and easily navigable.

There are specific tools and accessories available to fleets to help make the shop one of the safest place to work in the company. Fleets should not be concerned only with the well-being of their truck drivers, but also with the well-being of anyone working within their company. Shop technicians have one of the most arduous jobs in the fleet. Working around all that heavy equipment, vehicles notwithstanding, represents a high level of danger.

It is important to spec equipment and options for your fleet technicians that do everything from reduce accidents to minimize eye strain, and enable better health, all without sacrificing efficiency or productivity along the way. Mission number one at any shop or service facility should not be regarding whether the vehicles are fixed properly (which is important), but rather if the people doing the fixing are operating safely.

So, what is a fleet to do to ensure their technicians are operating in a safe and supportive environment?

Lighting Systems

A well-lit workspace is important to just about anyone. Whether you are at a desk in a cubicle or working in a service facility, having enough light to do the job and minimize eye strain is critical, not just for morale and motivation but for safety and health. Ensuring the environment is conducive to fewer injuries and more productivity is the holy grail of all safety managers.

Here are some lighting options that will go a long way to making sure your technicians feel appreciated:

1.      Lift Lighting: Do your shop technicians have to work around lifts and columns. Mobile column lift lighting are DC-powered units that use LED or fluorescent technology to provide ample lighting to technicians working on or around a lift.

2.      Platform Lighting: Four-post platform lift lighting provides lighting using impact-resistant LEDs. They are used to illuminate the area beneath undercarriages and have settings that allow them to switch on-and-off automatically.

3.      Palm Lighting: Sometimes nothing works better than a simple light in the hand. Whether it is a palm light, a flashlight or some other accessory, being able to use your hand to direct where you want the light to go is key for any technician trying to effectively get the job done.

Many of these solutions can be powered either by lithium-ion battery or plugged directly into a wall outlet. The latest offerings use less energy while providing even greater illumination.

The safety benefits go beyond even lighting. Manufacturers of lighting and illumination systems have branched out, creating advanced heavy-duty, full-color, touch-screen control consoles that control high-pressure inground telescopic piston lifting systems.

These systems are designed to create a more comprehensive level of human-machine interaction. Not only does the technician have greater control of the lift, but the illuminated touch-screen makes learning and manipulating the controls a far easier proposition.

The fact is, motor carriers need to be taking special care to ensure their fleet technicians feel safe on the job and have the tools they need to carry it out. Investing in safety systems, new technologies, and cutting-edge lift controls, among many other things, proves to your people that their safety and success is at the forefront of your decision-making process. That way you can count on them to remain a part of your trucking family for a long time to come

How Virtual Reality Has Increased Trucking Safety

Some point to the fact that trucking accidents and fatalities have been on the rise in the past few years. Yet, it isn’t only the trucking industry that has seen a rise in workplace incidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies have been increasingly turning to virtual reality as an answer to increasing trucking safety measures and positively impacting their BASIC scores.

If there is one company that seems to be always at the forefront of change, it is UPS. They began using virtual reality (VR) as a supplement to their new truck driver safety exercises and it has yielded positive dividends where decreased accidents are concerned. With the economy improving and package deliveries rising, the company plans to use the program to train thousands of workers in 2018.

VR Safety Training Explained

The program UPS uses includes safety modules designed to help truck drivers notice road hazards, whether they be pedestrians, light poles, curbs, or other vehicles. The truck drivers that go through the training exercise wear a 360-degree virtual reality headset that gives them a front-to-back 360-degree field of view.

Not only does using these systems increase the caliber of training a fleet can offer, they are fun! In a time where the truck driver employee shortage seems to be more acute than ever, providing a gamificaton level of training that is both fun and educational is a definite draw for truck drivers looking for something special about a prospective employer.

Improving the overall safety measures of the trucking industry requires a collective effort. The motor carriers utilizing these systems is not limited to only dry van, reefer, or flat bed operators.

How will fleets operating industrial gas or other hazardous materials incorporate virtual reality into their training? Will the training extend to truck driver actions around the cab? What will be the range of movement that those in the program can expect?

Virtual reality provides those using the system with a way to train their muscle memory before they even step foot in the cab. Once they have gone through it enough times, the risk of accident is reduced. Think about this type of training in the way that a guitar player who practices regularly, whether for an audience or not, hones his or her skills over time.

Technology is the Answer

If there is one topic that seems to come up on a regular basis, it is how technology continues to change the trucking industry. VR simply adds to this paradigm. As computing power increases, VR allows users to overlay graphics, create real-world situations, emulate actual routes, learn how hazardous materials react under certain situations, and more.

When a truck driver can both see through an object and know that his or her decision related to said object is not a life-or-death one, it provides clear insight into how that operator will react in the heat of the moment.

VR systems provide a contextual understanding of objects and systems without the stress or worry of damaging critical components or causing an unnecessary problem. But are VR systems confined only to large fleets? Can smaller operators reap any benefit from these systems?

The answer is yes. With so many trucking companies out there looking for ways to both cut costs and grow their business, they are turning to technology as an answer. VR can play a pivotal role in increasing trucking safety and adding something unique to both fleet training and retention efforts.

As companies try to put a meaningful dent in the truck driver shortage, will technologies like VR be the answer. Some say yes. Either way, it appears that the use of VR systems within trucking applications will only rise over time.

Safety Initiatives Taking Hold

No matter where you are around the globe, trucking safety initiatives are changing the industry. Trucking advocacy groups and fleets alike are doing everything they can to improve their safety profiles and raise awareness for trucking safety and overall advancement, no matter where they are around the globe.

In one heartwarming trucking story, the Australian Trucking Association has supported a campaign advocated by students from Swinburne University called “Don’t Truck Around.” The university’s Communication Design department completes an annual campaign focused on safe driving measures, from using a cell phone while driving to drinking and driving.

The campaign also aims to teach youth how to interact with large commercial motor vehicles once they finally start driving. Knowing how to react around a large truck is an important part of safely operating a passenger vehicle on any road anywhere in the world.

The numbers of commercial motor vehicles operating on Australian roads is only set to continue increasing over time, leaving that country with an essential choice. The Australian Trucking Association partnered with the school to pick top finalists to pitch their campaign.

In good news for trucking in general, no matter who won the competition, our compatriots down under stated they would use the feedback garnered from everyone who pitched, as well as information gleaned from their annual conference. They expressed interest in integrating it within the future decisions made regarding trucking in Australia.

Large U.S. Outfits Integrate Safety Systems

One of the largest players in trucking, Penske Logistics, has made a decision that will likely push safety technologies in a way that could see greater adoption across the trucking spectrum.

With a fleet of 2,800 heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles, the company has pledged to add video-based safety technologies to the mix. The technologies they have committed to outfitting on their fleet will include event-triggered on-board cameras that face both inside and outside the cab.

They hope to use the inward-facing camera information for truck driver coaching initiatives and bettering of fleet safety initiatives. Their commitment to outfitting these technologies also extends to older fleet vehicles.

Penske had previously run a pilot program within the company using the methodology from the larger idea. Internal company reports pointed to good results from the internal tests. The company reported a reduction in road safety incidents and higher overall safety scores for their truck drivers.

This technology will add to other technologies in use by the company, from backup alarms to collision-avoidance systems and more.

Using the Smith System

The company relies on the Smith System to train its truck drivers on the best way to operate a big rig. The Smith System relies on five key factors designed to reduce collisions, prevent injuries and save lives.

The five common principles of the Smith System of truck driving include aiming high on your steering, always being on the keen lookout for hazards, never get lost in a glare and stare. Always keep your eyes open and leave yourself a way to get out of a hazardous situation.

Always keep aware of the area of space around your tractor-trailer and make sure passenger cars and others on the road can always see you, whether through the use of your signals, lights, horn or other implement.  The Smith System uses a rating system to determine the safety efficacy of the truck drivers under the system’s tutelage.

With so many decisions within the trucking industry focused on safety, expect constant evolution in the sector. No matter the system used, trucking will continue to improve its safety profile the world over for a very long time; a good thing for everyone involved.

Staying Safe On The Job: Essential Tips For Every Professional Truck Driver

If you are a professional truck driver, you know how important it is to take special care on the job. Being a truck driver does not come without on-the-job risks, but if you take special care, you can ensure your health and safety from your first day on the job all the way through to your retirement.

The good news is that safety training and technologies have made it easier than ever for truck drivers to avoid nasty injuries on the job. And as a professional truck driver yourself, you can contribute to this ongoing trend. That’s why we wanted to cover often-overlooked on-the-job safety tips every truck driver should keep in mind.

Move Around

Being a truck driver is a sedentary job, much like many jobs nowadays. This is why it is important to take time to get out of the vehicle and move around. Minimizing your time spent in the cab’s seat helps keep your body healthy and limber. Don’t just sit in the driver’s seat while at rest stops. If your cab is equipped with a bed, you may even want to lie down and stretch, as opposed to sitting in your seat.

Clothing Matters

There is nothing worse than wearing tight or chafing clothing during long hours in the your vehicle. You want to wear loose, comfortable clothing and footwear. A big part of this is blood circulation. Not only does a lack of circulation lead to major health problems down the road, it is also incredibly uncomfortable.

Avoid Long Jumps

One of the most dangerous things a truck driver can do is jump from the cab down to the ground. You want to make sure you step carefully out of your vehicle and take great care in getting to the ground. One foot or hand should always be on a support piece, whether on ascent or descent to and from the vehicle. If you lose your grip or otherwise find yourself in an awkward position, it can lead to injury or worse.

Don’t Be A Hero

Never try to be the toughest guy on the block when handling loads. If possible, use mechanized equipment to handle loads. If you do not have equipment to help you, don’t attempt to lift a load you think may be too heavy for you. Also avoid lifting from your back if you do have to lift a box. If a load is too heavy for you, seek assistance.

Consider Road Vibrations

Whether you are truck driver or fleet manager, consider the effect road vibrations have on the occupant of a vehicle. If the vehicle is an older model, vibrations can have a negative impact on the entire body. When vibrations occur over a long period of time, critical bones and organs can be subject to injury, from the spine to other internal body structures.

Consider The Cab

Relating to road vibrations, it is important to consider a truck’s interior design. From the instrument panel’s layout to insulation and reduction of interior noise, all of these are important factors. Trucking companies and owner operators must pay careful attention to the layout of the cab to ensure both maximum comfort and safety at all times.

Watch For Fatigue

It is critically important for truck drivers to watch for fatigue. If you have been driving for many hours, non-stop, fatigue can be a major problem. If you become inattentive while driving your commercial motor vehicle, it can result in a major accident or worse. You should always practice safety and realize that when fatigue steps in, getting your load there in time should take a back seat.