Category Archives: Trucking

Necessary Steps To Prevent Cargo Theft

Cargo theft is an ever-increasing problem. The age of technology has provided tools for motor carriers to safeguard their cargo, but it has also provided thieves with new toys in their endeavor to steal freight. Professional freight cargo thieves are sophisticated, whether it be through the use of jamming devices or road obstructions, they aren’t resting on their laurels.

Motor carriers looking to ensure their precious cargo does not end up in someone else’s hands need to employ comprehensive freight security programs and countermeasures. Dispatch should have real-time monitoring of cargo shipments across the fleet through tracking technologies and software programs.

Looking at Embedded Technologies

Covert cargo security measures include embedded technologies. When location, status, time and condition data can be transmitted back to headquarters the moment dispatchers need to know it, cargo theft is mitigated. Even more, partners who have been in the game for a long will offer additional services.

Does the cargo security firm you are partnering with utilize critical activity alerts, cargo monitoring, shipment tracking, and analytical reporting measures? There must be a high level of communication between the end points. Still, there are technological limitations.

Aluminum containers and cargo holds limit the effectiveness of GPS devices. That is where electronic freight security programs come into place. Just as technology has emboldened thieves, companies have stepped into the breach to keep up with them.

Dedicated EFS programs allow the tracking entity to follow the trailer, whether thieves cut a cellular or satellite link or not. Enterprising fleets are taking advantage of GPS units hidden within the cargo or built into a small box on the side of the trailer. Inconspicuous places can be used to hide the critical payload.

Be Discreet

It is important that the tracking method employed is discreet. The last thing a truck driver needs is for a bad guy to circumvent their security measures simply because they weren’t strong enough. It is true we live in a time where finding a safe place to park has become an increasing problem for truck drivers.

Since truck drivers must park where they do, the least a fleet or owner-operator can do is make it difficult for potential thieves to break in. Utilize locking and early warning mechanisms to ensure the trailer isn’t compromised without the operator even knowing about it.

Even better, OEMs on the front lines of trucking security are providing active countermeasures by utilizing systems that send out multiple signal layers, which confuse jammers. The game is afoot as thieves and corporations do each other’s best to match wits.

Team Up

One of the best ways to confound and throw off would-be attackers is to follow the age-old motto: There’s strength in numbers. When truck drivers link up with one another, it is far less likely thieves will prey upon them.

Law enforcement officials should never be considered as adversaries, but instead open lines of communication with enforcement personnel should be encouraged. Since criminals never run out of ways to defeat security systems, truck drivers and motor carriers must be on constant alert.

If a theft does occur, having a rapport already established with law enforcement allows for the investigation to begin quickly and hopefully yield quick results. Gather quick intelligence and be ready to make decisions on the fly in order to keep your cargo safe.

The brave new front will always be in cybersecurity. Trucking companies must stay at the forefront of digital security in order to keep their operations shielded from harm. Will your fleet be ready when the moment comes to protect against the bad guys?

Your Latest On Safety From Capitol Hill

ELD exemptions are once again on lawmakers’ radar as they look for ways to further streamline regulations head of the fiscal 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill, since it was not handled within the bill itself.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations issued “report language” to go along with any legislation that is created around ELD or other trucking regulatory exemptions. But what was in this report? What language did the Committee send to the rest of Congress?

Livestock Haulers

In short, the Committee stated that the Department of Transportation needed to clarify the 150 air-mile radius exemption, specifically where agricultural commodity haulers are concerned. As such, the Committee directed the DOT to consult with the industry, as well as the Department of Agriculture, to find solutions to the exemption clarification problem.

They went on to point out that those working in the livestock or agricultural hauling sector operated within unique working conditions. As such, those unique conditions must be taken into consideration when the DOT decides to issue new regulatory guidance or frameworks.

What is more, the House version of the bill explicitly prohibits funds from being used for enforcing ELD use on livestock or insect freight haulers. As usual, the House took a firmer stance on the issue, one that the Senate did not emulate. In fact, the Senate’s version of the bill had no political riders attached to it.

It is likely the issue will be sorted out in Congress, with both sides coming to a compromise. It may even become part of a larger negotiating position. Either way, it is designed to address the larger issue at hand, which comes up on October 1. That is when any trucker hauling living things must turn on their ELD and not drive for more than 11 hours, per the ELD rule.

The Difference

Since hauling living things is very different from hauling non-living things, additional considerations must be made. Ranchers and farmers complain that they have difficulty getting livestock from a place like Montana down to places like Oklahoma.

The problem? During summer and winter months, especially during rough weather, livestock is put at risk. If a truck driver has to take a mandatory 10-hour break after 11 hours of driving, they could be putting the lives of their haul at risk. Honeybees are a prime example of this. They are extremely fragile cargo and are susceptible to heat and cold.

As a result, two Senators have introduced legislation, entitled the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act. As it has been introduced, the bill would increase air-mile-radius exemptions from 150 to 300. Livestock haulers would also be allowed to ignore hours of service rules provided they are within 150 air miles of the destination.

The Senators, John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) and Steve Daines (R-Montana) are sponsoring the bill and have openly voiced their support for extending ELD exemptions beyond the 150-mile air radius. Whether or not it actually passes, makes its way through the House, and is signed by the president is all up in the air.

Although there are many in favor of changing the rule, safety groups have come out saying that this is another attempt to gut the efficacy of the ELD mandate. They state that if more and more exemptions are given, the impact of the mandate will become diluted.

Whatever happens, this will all play out in the halls of Congress and at the White House. With trucking company and safety advocacy lobbying groups lining up, only time will tell if his actually sees the light of day.

How The ELD Mandate Is Affecting Truck Drivers

There are some grumblings among truck drivers regarding how the ELD mandate is impacting their pay and the way they operate on the job. Truck drivers from the pre-ELD era might drive for eight hours, take a four to six hour nap while the truck was unloaded, then drive for another four hours or so before stopping overnight for sleep.

In Practical Use

With the ELD mandate in place, scenarios like that are no longer possible. With the 11 hour limit, some truck drivers feel like it is cutting into their pay. Consider how truck drivers are usually paid: by the mile. When the trucker is not out on the road within the allotted time, it cuts into how many hours they can stay on the road.

Even more, the truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break every eight hours, even if they just spent half the time at an unloading site waiting for their cargo to be pulled off. When you add up all this time, you can see how much a truck driver being paid by the mile can lose.

Compounding the problem, there is a safety issue associated with these concerns. Since most truck drivers are operating on a similar schedule – since they all must comply with the same ELD regulations – they all wind up taking their 10-hour breaks at the same time, resulting in a parking nightmare.

Reports of truck drivers having difficulties finding safe places to park abound. Some openly wonder whether this is defeating the entire purpose of the mandate, which was to improve trucking safety. There has been some uptick in red zone cargo thefts since the mandate went into effect. Certainly, there is nothing to prove correlation or causation, but the trend is there.

What Are the Concerns?

Although the ELD mandate is still relatively young, there is now enough data to provide an initial assessment of how it has effected the trucking industry. According to a recent industry study, productivity is down since implementation, all while the cost of shipping has continued to rise.

While the theory underlying the ELD mandate was sound – that truck drivers were working longer hours to make more money, which could post a safety concern. No one wants truck drivers to operate while they are too fatigued.

Yet, the problem lies in the fact that the Hours of Service rules have remained largely unchanged for nearly a century.

Truck drivers are starting to openly worry whether or not the ELD device usage is creating an unsafe operating environment for them. Some refer to it as a constant race to beat the clock. Some truckers report trying to race to their destination before the mandatory breaks kick in.

Losing Experienced Truck Drivers

The simple fact is this: Money matters. Trucking as a career will become less lucrative for truck drivers who are paid by the mile. A rookie truck driver can expect to bring in around 27 cents a mile. Experienced truck drivers could expect around 44 cents per mile.

Studies done on the impact the ELD mandate has had on truck driver pay shows that there is potential for the average long haul truck driver to lose upwards of $14,000 per year as a result of the new methodology.

With the truck driver shortage already an acute problem, the trucking industry cannot afford an exodus of experienced truckers. Fleets need all the help they can get recruiting, training, and retaining truckers of the future. Will the ELD mandate wind up helping or hurting their cause? Right now, only time will tell.

Summertime Driving Tips For Truck Drivers

Summertime! It’s a time of fun in the sun, trips to the lake or beach, and laughing kids playing without a care in the world. It, quite possible, is almost everyone’s favorite season. And while the same may be true for professional truck drivers, they must take extra care during the warm summer months.

There are so many reasons why summer represents a dangerous season for truck drivers, and with the summer rapidly approaching in most of the country, now is the time for a summertime safe driving tips refresher blog. With the sun high and the heat approaching, what’s a truck driver to do?

Adequate Sun Protection

First up is protection from the sun. Truck drivers usually must get in and out of their truck on a regular basis. Even more, they sometimes have to spend large amounts of time waiting outside their tractor while a shipper or receiver loads or unloads.

This is why it is so important that truckers protect themselves from the harmful rays of the sun. It is important to remember that there are serious risks associated with overexposure to the sun. Have you ever heard of the condition, “Trucker’s Arm”? It describes the condition that occurs when the sun scorches the left arm sitting beneath the driver’s side window.

Truck drivers need to make sure they stock up on sun block to prevent overexposure to the harsh rays of the sun. But even more than the sun, truckers need to pay more attention to other drivers just as much, if not more, than they do the sun.

Crowded Roads

It is no great secret that the summertime is the perfect time of year for hitting the road on a great American road trip. For this reason alone, professional truck drivers need to make sure they are extra vigilant.

The summer months bring more travelers onto our nation’s roads, which can make conditions even more unsafe for truckers. While not every accident can be prevented, staying alert and awake can lessen the chances of a terrible summer accident from occurring.

Drink Water

A common misconception among road warriors is that because they are in the cab of their truck, they don’t need to drink water or overly worry about dehydration, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, truck drivers can wind up dehydrated. Make sure to keep a full bottle of water in the cab because you never know when you might need it.

Do A Brake Check

If there is one mechanical component to watch out for during the summer months, it is your brakes. Intense summer heat can lead to brakes fading, loss of friction, and the inability of your brakes to absorb additional heat.

This is what makes a comprehensive pre-trip inspection so important. You need to ensure you check your brakes before and after every trip, but especially during the summer to make sure your brakes are working properly.

Check Tire Inflation

High temperatures pose a particular danger for truck drivers as the excessive heat makes blowouts common. Checking your tires should be part of any comprehensive pre-trip inspection. Before you move your vehicle, especially during the summer, make sure your tires are properly inflated to avoid a potential blowout.

Finally, always make sure to practice extra caution in work zones. Memorial Day weekend just passed, and each year over 30 million drivers hit the road for this holiday. As the summer draws on, even more people will hit the road. Always use extra caution, complete a thorough pre-trip inspection and stay safe and hydrated on the roads and you’ll be well prepared for the sweltering summer months!

Safety Should Be Built Into Recruiting Efforts

Now that the ELD mandate is in place, a greater blanket of transparency has covered the trucking industry. With greater transparency comes greater scrutiny and although we are living in an anti-regulatory environment a lot of laws and regulations are still on the books. Some within the trucking industry were hoping the ELD mandate would be one of the regulations given the boot when the new administration came in and began eliminating regulations.

Yet, many of the operators who see the ELD mandate as a great, big unnecessary expense are missing out on critical tools they can use to optimize their business, increase revenues, decrease costs, and improve fleet-wide safety measures.

Building a culture of safety around recruiting creates a sense of purpose. When you concentrate your efforts on safety, it turns into an essential core value. While speed and efficiency is important, they should never be put above safety. This should be the ethos that all truck drivers and fleet managers live by.

Starting With a Clean Record

Ensuring your recruiting efforts are built upon a foundation of safety requires you to start with a clean slate, or in this case, record. Although the trucking employment market is tight, if possible, avoid hiring new truck drivers with spotty safety records. Yet there is a flip side to that coin.

In many cases, a truck driver with a clean safety record is merely a new truck driver. Statistics show that truck drivers under the age of 25 years old get into more accidents than those in higher age brackets. Certainly, not every hire can be perfect, but if you start from a solid foundation, one built upon a culture of safety, then you will come out ahead in the talent pool game more often than not.

To ensure the people you employ are well-versed in the language of safety, you want to start training them as soon as they come aboard. The best way to keep younger, newer truck drivers engaged is to provide them with clear expectations and a comprehensive training curriculum.

Start with the basics (and the BASICs!):

  • What is truck driver detention?
    • What are the base safe operating tips and tricks?
  • What is a layover?
  • How does the ELD mandate impact my job?
  • What is an MVR?
  • What do I need to know about vehicle specs, pre- and post-trip inspections?

It is important that a motor carrier sets up base expectations for its truck drivers and commits to holding themselves accountable just as much as they expect their truck drivers to remain accountable.

The Advantage of Recruiting Technology

We mean that statement both literally and figuratively.  New software-as-a-service (SaaS) and database and cloud solutions provide motor carriers with a way to access advanced recruiting tools, video orientation and coaching systems, camera, sensor, and hardware tech, and so much more!

By putting the focus on safety training from Day One, and backing your talk up with real, actionable solutions, you will ensure a safety culture that will be the envy of the industry. Now what better way can you think of to attract, train, and retain than by offering cutting-edge training, safety workshops, mentorships, and more?

Web-based interfaces provide users with portals to check status, safety information, competition information if the fleet is running such programs, and more. A new recruit with access to such a wealth of tools is far more likely to stay on board than someone who is tossed into the cab with no care given to their training.

Keep safety a core value, an integral part of your company’s mission, all while providing a more attractive target for potential truck drivers, simply by making safety a vital part of your initial hiring process.


Truck Driver Hair Testing Is Once Again Up For Discussion

The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, otherwise known as the Trucking Alliance, has come out stating they plan to lobby congress to pass a new drug testing law that mandates anyone who is applying for a safety-sensitive truck driver job to take a drug test and verify they are not addicted to opiates or other illegal drug use.

The Trucking Alliance used a United Nations event to reveal this new initiative. They cited Brazil as an example of a country who was thinking forward on the issue. Brazil requires that new commercial truck drivers in Brazil pass a hair test before renewing their commercial vehicle driving license.

Since Brazil enacted this law, over 1 million truck drivers have failed their hair test or refused to renew their license to avoid getting caught in taking the test. The Alliance represents a coalition of freight and logistics companies that support safety technologies and regulations. They have been behind the push to create new speed limiter regulations, the ELD mandate, better truck driver training and advanced safety assistance technologies.

But Why Hair Tests?

The problem lies in the type of drugs that most truck drivers struggle with. Nearly half of all the truck drivers who fail drug tests do so because of opiates, no surprise considering the opiate addiction problem facing our country. Urine testing usually does not test positive for opiates because they are flushed out of the system rather quickly.

Hair testing, on the other end, usually can pinpoint opiates because the testing goes back far enough to discover the substance. The Alliance points to current drug testing methods as not enough to address the current substance abuse crisis enveloping the nation and the trucking industry. While many fleets don’t report major problems of failed drug tests, the Alliance purports the reason behind this is that fleets are not instituting hair tests for their employees.

Opioids can be undetectable in urine after a few hours, which allows opioid addicts to simply avoid drugs before submitting to a urine analysis. A hair test, however, detects opiate use up to 90 days out from use. Opiate pain killer includes everything from brands as diverse as hydromorphone to oxycodone, or trade names such as OxyContin, Percocet, and others. A urine analysis will miss these unless taken within an hour of use.

One of the proposals on the table includes Congress requiring tests for new truck drivers but requiring them for license renewals. Once a truck driver is on the road, it is critical that the motor carrier employing them is keeping track of whether they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. After all, lives are at stake.

Will It Matter In Our Current Political Environment?

Now the question is, will Congress or the Trump administration get on board with such a legislative push. We are currently in an anti-regulatory environment. Will more regulations, even if they make sense where trucking safety is concerned, make that much of a difference in the long run? While the Trucking alliance says yes, trucking industry advocates and trucking companies would like to keep those decisions in-house.

If hair testing is the right thing to do and will save lives, should motor carriers immediately jump on board? Also, is there a greater expense related to this type of extensive drug testing. Will small carriers be able to bear the cost? There are a lot of unanswered questions relating to drug testing and whether it should be mandatory, and it appears we won’t find the answers any time soon

Parking As A Trucking Safety Concern

Did you know that parking searches cost truck drivers and/or fleets up to $4,600 annually? In fact, parking availability is one of the top concerns whether you are asking motor carriers or truck drivers themselves. In fact, it has been documented that truck drivers feel a certain measure of anxiety over the parking situation they have to deal with on near-daily basis.

According to the Truck Parking Diary, detailed documentation from internal surveys shows that commercial truck drivers who agreed to participate in the surveys recorded parking experiences and issues across 4,700 truck parking stops.

As those who manage the Truck Parking Diary discovered as they broke down the data from the survey, several trends became apparent. The most readily available times to find parking were generally the weekends and mid-day hours. Conversely, the most difficult times were after 7:00pm during the week.

Available parking areas also stayed full all the way through to 5:00am the next day. Still, there were exceptions to the rule. The survey reported that there were higher instances of non-commercial vehicles – such as RVs – that often take up spaces reserved for commercial motor vehicles, which obviously adds to the problems truck drivers face trying to find parking.

The survey also found that if there were more flexible shipper/receiver times, truck drivers could shift their operating times away from the busiest parking times. Whatever can be done to help truck drivers find parking during peak and off-peak hours benefits both the trucking industry and the drivers.

How Much Do Truck Drivers Work?

Another aspect of the job the survey revealed was that truck drivers typically dedicated 56 minutes of allotted drive time to either parking or finding parking, rather than risk not being able to find a place to park further along the road.

This means that the truck driver effectively lowered the wages they were earning to the tune of $4,600, which accounts for over nine thousand lost minutes on an annual basis.  When 10-hour hours of service breaks were allowed, the survey determined that truck driver spent most of this allotted time trying to find parking than they did to addressing their basic amenities needs.

What did truck drivers look for when they were factoring whether or not they had found an appropriate parking space? Obviously, proximity to the route they are running is most important, but they also looked closely at whether the rest area offers restrooms and/or showers, or if the advertised parking spaces are available, and whether they had a reasonable ease of access and use.

There is Room for Improvement

Another important note that came from the survey was that there is certainly room for conditions to be improved, both by adding more parking along major freight lines and by increasing available facilities and providing the basic needs truck drivers look for when they are taking long breaks in a specific space.

Whether you are talking about public or private partnerships, more investment in parking spaces is needed. There also needs to be more flexibility in which rest areas are available to the public or commercial operators.

Throughout all this, motor carriers have been encouraged to pay reservation fees for truck drivers, which should help ease the stress of finding available parking. This would not only cut down on motor carrier costs or lost driving time but would go a long way to increasing truck driver retention rates.

Finally, truck drivers would not have to ask to shift their scheduled – or be asked to do so – based on peak driving times. Whether it be a lack of capacity, time limitations, or otherwise, truck drivers deserve to have facilities they can use, whether for increased comfort or safety.

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.