How Safety Technology Is Changing The Trucking Industry

As the long march of technology continues unabated, industries across the world are impacted, in ways both good, bad and profound. Where trucking is concerned, nowhere has this impact been more pronounced than in fleet safety.

The fact is, trucking companies and truck rental operators are expanding their safety offerings to include highly advanced features that supplement truck driver intuition. This, all while the cost of such technologies continues to drop.

Where It All Began

The transition to advanced safety technologies began with major rental companies adopting them. When major players make the shift, technologies proliferate and are much more easily spread across the board.

And while systems like on-board stability control have been around for many, many years, the game is changing as new technologies come online. Whereas before one may only be able to avoid a collision, today’s advanced sensors can go so far as to help mitigate a jackknife in real-time.

As the technologies have increased, payback time has decreased. A fleet can now reasonably expect payback for an advanced on-board safety system to roll in at around 12 to 14 months.

For larger trucking companies, the return is simple. Common features like collision avoidance systems and air disc brakes have become so affordable that they are almost no-brainers. Even smaller trucking companies can get in on the action at the low price points offered.

More Advanced Systems

As the advanced features of yesterday become the common features of today, we look ahead to what new technologies being released today will be the common features of tomorrow.

Laying the groundwork for advanced safety technologies includes integrating technologies such as forward-looking radar and collision mitigation systems. The new generations of active control systems are able to reduce collision costs and lower lost time and truck driver injuries.

Thanks to rapid advances in computing power and automated technologies, trucks with these systems have active linkages to braking and powertrain controls. Simply put, these go far beyond simple alerts and become active participants in how the truck is controlled.

These systems are simply negligence agnostics, meaning that they can operate at speeds faster than a human can think, decide on a course of action and react.

Leveraging Cost with Safety

Although these systems can be expensive for smaller fleets, larger fleets see long-term savings in reduced crash costs and better safety for their truck drivers.

For smaller companies with multi-year lease contracts, safety packages can be integrated at the manufacturing level, thus allowing smaller operators to take advantage of better safety features without breaking the bank or hurting the bottom line.

Consider that smaller fleets are more susceptible to crashes and it isn’t hard to see where there’s a real return on safety investment.

Big Players 

Driving the development of these technologies are huge companies like Ryder, Penkse, UPS and FedEx. All four of these companies now spec their vehicles with advanced safety systems as a standard procedure.

UPS, for instance, has been ordering trucks with collision avoidance systems since 2015, standard. FedEx has been spec’ing forward-collision avoidance systems for almost the same amount of time on certain vehicles, though they are not as far ahead on them as their shipping rival.

While none of these systems are fully automated, meaning at some point the truck driver must react to prevent sure disaster, they go a long way to ensuring innovation continues. How fast safety technologies move towards greater automation depends on the pace of development.

Either way you look at it, however, these systems are having  a huge impact on both industry truck driver safety and the safety of others on the road. Where this will all end up – and how far these technologies develop – is anyone’s guess, but for now everyone is happy we’ve come this far.