The transportation industry is America’s lifeblood, carrying vital food and supplies across a network of roadways. Without truckers, modern life would come to a halt. Road safety is essential to the flow of transportation. Over the past decade, significant improvements in advanced safety systems have increased motorist and truck driver safety. Each year brings new innovations in safety technology.
The Need for Advanced Safety
Safety systems that were optional a few years ago are now mandatory. Projections from market research analysis firm Frost & Sullivan indicate the North American transportation industry will require over 900,000 truck safety systems by 2020. This is an increase of over 500,000 from 2013’s numbers.
Driver monitoring and crash avoidance systems are expected to be the most popular types of vehicle safety improvements. Integrated Safety Systems, Lane Departure Warning, and Blind Spot Detection systems provide real-time feedback to drivers and help fleets monitor new drivers. This valuable information helps reduce collisions and fatalities for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and drivers. Increased regulations come with these advancements.
Safety Systems for Trucks
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems such as SmartTrac from Meritor WABCO is a safety feature made to prevent rollovers and jack knifing during severe weather or evasive manoeuvres. The system complements tractor-trailer antilock braking and automatic traction control systems with Roll Stability Control (RSC). When SmartTrac detects instability, it automatically applies engine, trailer, and truck brakes to safely decelerate the vehicle.
The RSC component is responsible for repeatedly monitoring potential rollover conditions. When sideways acceleration thresholds are approached, it de-throttles the engine and applies axle and drive brakes. The entire system also records data, providing valuable information in the event of an accident.
Collision avoidance systems like Bendix’s Wingman give drivers a visual and auditory heads up in unsafe traffic situations. Red lights above the speedometer flash and the system beeps a warning when a motorist moves into a driver’s blind spot. If the driver does not respond in time, the system brakes the rig to match the other vehicle’s speed while sounding and flashing a warning. If needed, Wingman will slow the truck to a crawl to help prevent a collision.
If transportation is the country’s lifeblood, then truck drivers are its heartbeat. Autonomous truck safety systems are designed to help, not replace, driver safety. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) may not be typical truck safety systems, but the use combats a top collision risk factor: driver fatigue.
ELDs automatically monitor and report driver data, including GPS location, miles driven, engine hours, and vehicle movement. Companies may use this type of information to monitor driver compliance with federal Hours-of-Service regulations. A truck with an ELD provides to-the-minute information, the old 15-minute increments required for submitting paper logs no longer apply. Though initially the data may show a loss of productivity, the system helps prevent padded hours and results in better driver accountability.
Soon, these devices will no longer be optional. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that the ELD mandate will save over 25 lives and prevent more than 560 injuries annually. This mandate is scheduled to go into effect at the end of 2017.
Technology and Safety
Every day, millions of goods make their way across the United States through the ebb and flow of the transportation industry. The steady hum of an engine and vibration of the road keeps the country’s wheels rolling too. Advanced truck safety systems provide protection and support to drivers. A safe truck means that a day’s work is safer – for big rig drivers and for other motorists.