Safety-conscious fleets understand the role that driver training and ongoing coaching programs play in reducing accident rates and keeping Compliance Safety Accountability scores low. But even the safest drivers for the safest fleets can have accidents. And if a company driver is at fault, the costs could be catastrophic depending on the severity, especially for small to mid-sized operations.
Enter advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These new technologies developed by suppliers and OEMs rely on a combination of radar- and camera-based components to intercede on the driver’s behalf to eliminate or greatly decrease a collision’s severity.
Employing ADAS in a fleet operation goes beyond accident avoidance. Most products on the market today can integrate with telematics providers, allowing safety managers to monitor driver performance in real time and create scorecards based on exception events such as harsh braking, following distance alerts, lane departure warnings and speeding. Safety managers can target drivers exceeding a threshold for intervention and retraining and can reward high-performing drivers for safe behaviors.
Last year, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Cypress Truck Lines ordered 30 new International ProStars equipped with the Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system and BlindSpotter side object detection system, both from Bendix.
“Safety is the most important thing we do,” says Thad Penland, Cypress’ vice president. “It all starts there. You can’t haul the first load if you’re not safe. It’s a major focus for everyone at the company. Every single decision of any significance is looked at from a safety standpoint first and foremost. In terms of equipment, we believe in active safety devices. They are a big part of our safety program.”
Calculating the return on investment for collision mitigation systems and other ADAS can be difficult since their effectiveness is hard to quantify. Still, says Penland, the technologies available today make his drivers even safer and likely already have saved the company money.
“We’ve already seen incidences where one of the Wingman systems prevented a potential accident, including two that would have been rear-end collisions,” he says.
In the future, these advances in safety technology may become more commonplace, if not outright mandatory. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s June 2015 final rule mandating the use of electronic stability control technology for all Class 7 and 8 tractors with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds takes effect in August. NHTSA said the mandate will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes and save 49 lives annually.