Knight-Swift adds new sensors to detect unsafe speed, ‘sitting duck’ conditions

A new Sitting Duck intelligent sensor from SmartDrive alerts fleets to unsafe truck parking conditions.A new Sitting Duck intelligent sensor from SmartDrive alerts fleets to unsafe truck parking conditions.

Video telematics provider SmartDrive has developed new SmartSense “intelligent driver-assist” sensors to detect unsafe speeds in bad weather conditions and “sitting duck” events.

The new sensors, Speeding for Conditions and Sitting Duck, leverage streaming vehicle data, external data and cloud computing to identify and alert fleet managers and drivers immediately for unsafe conditions.

Department of Transportation crash statistics show that unsafe speed is the leading cause of collisions (65%) in bad weather. Overall, 23% of all truck crashes occur when drivers are going too fast in weather conditions.

The new Speeding for Conditions intelligent sensor compares location-specific weather, map and truck data to determine if the vehicle speed is unsafe. Jason Palmer, chief operating officer of SmartDrive, said the system can immediately alert drivers of unsafe speeds and provide information about what a safer speed would be for the conditions, based on fleet customers’ policies.

A live report in SmartDrive’s web portal gives fleet managers details of the unsafe speeding events. Users can also view trend reports to see where they are having issues with drivers going too fast for conditions such as in rain, fog and snow by geographical region.

The reporting also shows how driving behaviors change after messaging or training goes out, he said.

The Sitting Duck intelligent sensor identifies situations where a vehicle is parked on the side of the road or in a lane of travel. The situation may be caused by a mechanical issue, but Palmer said that SmartDrive has seen an increase in sitting duck events during the COVID-19 pandemic due to overcrowding at rest areas and truck parking locations.

Truck drivers have had fewer options for parking at restaurants due to state-issued lockdown orders.

Sitting Duck delivers information and alerts to fleet management to respond when the technology detects a vehicle in an unsafe parking situation at roadside. The sensor uses data streaming off a vehicle and a series of algorithms that consider the vehicle’s path of travel, location and speed to determine if a vehicle is stopped or parked, Palmer said.

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As part of the message sent to a fleet manager, the user has a map to view street-level details and can request a video to be offloaded to view the situation in near real time. The alerts can be escalated if the vehicle remains parked in an unsafe condition. The available trend reports include a map view of violations by vehicle ID, and vehicles that are currently sitting.

Knight-Swift Transportation, the largest truckload carrier in North America, has been involved in collisions by impaired or drowsy motorists striking its vehicles even when drivers are legally parked on the roadside. The company intends to use the new Sitting Duck technology “to protect our drivers and, to the extent we can, protect other motorists,” said Brett Sant, senior vice president of safety and risk management for the Phoenix-based carrier.

“Obviously for us, this is all about safety,” he said. With the new SmartSense technology, “we want to help our drivers be better, safer drivers.”

“Ultimately, the driver is the most important part of the equation,” Sant continued. “We need to have capable and conscientious drivers making these decisions. These tools are intended to support and help drivers make better decisions in those conditions, but never to second-guess the driver or take that decision making responsibility or authority away from the driver.”