The transportation industry is America’s lifeblood, by carrying vital food and supplies across the country. Without trucker drivers, 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 features have increased motorist and truck driver safety. With each passing year, safety features bring new innovations in safety technology.
The Need for Advanced Safety Features
Safety features that were optional a few years ago are now mandatory. Projections from the market research analysis firm Frost & Sullivan show that the North American transportation industry will require more than 900,000 truck safety features and systems by the end of 2020. This is an increase of over 500,000 from the numbers in 2013.
Driver monitoring and crash avoidance systems are expected to be the most popular types of vehicle safety improvements. While, integrated safety systems, lane departure warning, and blind-spot detection systems give real-time feedback to drivers and help fleets monitor new drivers. This information helps reduce collisions and fatalities for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and drivers. However, some increased regulations come with these safety feature advancements.
Advanced Safety Features for Trucks
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems such as SmartTrac from Meritor WABCO is a safety feature made to prevent rollovers and jackknifing during severe weather or evasive maneuvers. This 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 the axle and drive brakes. The entire system also records data and provides valuable information in the event of an accident.
Collision avoidance systems such as Bendix’s Wingman give drivers visual and auditory heads up in unsafe traffic situations. Red lights flash above the speedometer and the system beeps an alert warning when a motorist moves into the driver’s blind spot.
If the driver does not respond promptly, the system applies the brakes to match other vehicle’s speed while sounding and flashing a warning. If needed, Wingman will slow the truck to a crawl to help prevent an accident.
Driver Safety Features
If transportation is the country’s lifeblood, then truck drivers are considered the heartbeat. Autonomous truck safety systems are designed to help, not replace driver safety. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) may not be a typical truck safety feature. Still, ELDs helps reduce the top collision risk factor: driver fatigue.
ELDs automatically monitor and report driver data, including GPS location, miles drove, engine hours, and vehicle movement. Some companies use this 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. 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 Safety Features
Every day, millions of goods make their way across the United States through the ebb and flow in the transportation industry. The steady hum of an engine and vibration of the road keeps the country’s wheels rolling too. Advanced truck safety features help provide protection and support to drivers. A safe truck means that a day’s work is safer for big rig drivers and other motorists.