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Making the case for advanced safety systems

Source: 2015-published study by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

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.

OEMs target deeper integration with advanced safety systems

With all the available technologies at the driver’s disposal – telematics systems, communications devices, navigation screens and portable devices, just to name a few – the number of display units cluttering the dash and garnering his attention can be overwhelming. As fleets continue to adopt various ADAS technologies into their truck specs, OEMs now are offering seamless solutions to integrate alerts directly into the main instrument cluster.

Bendix Wingman Fusion system

With the launch of its new International LT series Class 8 tractor last year, Navistar made the Bendix Wingman Advanced its standard ADAS offering; the Bendix Wingman Fusion is available as an upgrade. A premium 5-inch digital display in the gauge cluster, listed as an option for both the Classic and Diamond trim levels, allows for integration of safety alerts generated by the Bendix safety system onto the same screen as fuel economy, axle load, digital speedometer and other information.

In late 2016, Volvo Trucks introduced its Volvo Active Driver Assist system, powered by Bendix Wingman Fusion, as an upgrade to its Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology that is standard on all VNL tractors. Volvo fully integrates the VADA system directly into the driver information display for fleets that spec it.

Daimler Trucks North America offers the Detroit Assurance 4.0 safety system as an option on its new Freightliner Cascadia launched last year. The system is based on existing Mercedes-Benz passenger car and European truck technologies and offers proprietary integration with Detroit engines, transmissions and braking systems. Alerts are displayed directly on the Cascadia’s standard 5-inch LCD screen in the instrument cluster.

NTSB pushing for advanced safety technologies

Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board issues its “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements,” a set of guidelines for agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider when filling out their regulatory agendas.

NTSB has advocated for safety technologies since 1995, but the 2017 Most Wanted List marks the second consecutive year the agency specifically calls for increased implementation of collision avoidance technologies, including forward collision warning systems, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems. “These technologies are available today,” NTSB said in its report. “They should be implemented today.”

NTSB has recommended the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration develop performance standards for collision avoidance systems and has called for commercial vehicle operators to install forward collision warning systems at a minimum across their fleets.

Out of harm’s way: Dynamic routing helps keep drivers out of the cold

Weather-related delays cost trucking companies between $2.2 billion and $3.5 billion annually, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. At the least, weather events such as snowstorms, straight-line winds and thunderstorms likely can lead to delivery delays or tow costs. At the worst, they can increase the probability of an accident, putting your assets, loads and drivers at risk.

Overlays of data sets such as traffic conditions, truck parking locations, diesel prices and weather are fueling the transformation of simple navigation systems from basic point-to-point functionality into dynamic routing and mapping solutions that allow fleet managers and drivers to adapt when Mother Nature rears her head.

Telogis Navigation software can be configured to prioritize roads based on weather information ahead of the trip and provide dynamic routing options to send trucks around weather systems.

TMW recently launched Trip Insight, a module within the TMW Operations load planning and dispatch workflow program. It optimizes trip plans based on historical traffic flow, hours-of-service rest breaks, fuel stops, load-specific route restrictions and more.

Once the truck is en route to its destination, the system can change ETAs dynamically based on events such as traffic and weather, and data brought in from sister company ALK.
Transport America, CCJ’s 2016 Innovator of the Year, worked with ALK to develop a weather alert system that the Eagan, Minn.-based carrier now uses to keep drivers safe when inclement weather strikes.

Customers are alerted to delivery delays and provided with route-specific weather information to make decisions whether to pay extra to re-route the load around the storm or accept a delayed delivery. Transport America can have drivers drop inbound loads at a nearby support center outside the storm’s path and accept a load heading in the opposite direction.

“We can keep drivers busy, out of harm’s way, and make them money, and still create a value to our customers that aren’t impacted,” says Greg Handwerk, vice president and general manager of the company’s One-Way Truckload group.

An eye on the road: Fleets use video cameras to protect themselves, coach drivers

Driver-facing, road-facing or both?

The type of video event recorder you choose depends on your planned use. Some fleets add video systems primarily to aid in driver coaching; others see them as a risk management and litigation defense tool. Most video systems offer three types of options, with the third being a combination of the following:

These video systems most often consist of a single dash-mounted camera aimed at the road in front of the truck; some suppliers offer multiple road-facing camera solutions that monitor the tractor-trailer’s sides. These cameras capture footage when triggered by the vehicle’s safety systems or the video system’s g-force sensor.
Vendors include: SafetyDirect by Bendix, Lytx DriveCam, MobilEye, PeopleNet Video Intelligence, Omnitracs Critical Event Video, SmartDrive Systems

Used almost exclusively for driver behavior monitoring, these cameras are aimed at the driver’s seat and typically are offered as add-ons to road-facing systems. Recording parameters are customizable, but these systems typically are used to record video clips a few seconds before and after exception-based events. Some systems even monitor driver head and eye movements to detect alertness and distracted driving and sound an audible alarm when the number of instances pass a preset threshold.
Vendors include: Guardian by Seeing Machines, Lytx DriveCam, Omnitracs Critical Event Video, SmartDrive Systems

Technology has made it easier than ever for carriers to view real-time driver performance and safety data across their entire fleet, essentially putting fleet managers and safety directors in the passenger’s seat. While the advantages to carriers are obvious, many drivers don’t take kindly to a “virtual big brother” sitting shotgun while they work.

That was the industry-wide battle cry by drivers in the early days of electronic logging device implementation. But as their experiences with the systems grew and the fears of micromanagement subsided, so did much of the opposition.

Like ELDs before them, onboard video event recorders quickly are becoming an important part of fleet safety efforts. These systems can tap into a truck’s electronic control unit and advanced driver safety systems (ADAS) to record video clips before and after exception-based events such as speeding, forward collision warnings, harsh braking, lane departure alerts and collisions.

Not surprisingly, drivers object to the idea that such systems might be used to “spy” on them. But early adopters of video event recorders say their successes far outweigh the initial driver backlash, and that once the systems are shown to exonerate drivers in accident cases, their attitudes quickly change.

Recent data analysis of 8,309 car-truck fatality crashes by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute show passenger car drivers were assigned fault at an 81 percent rate compared to only 27 percent for truck drivers. (Both car and truck drivers were assigned fault for 8 percent of crashes.) Yet when fleets are faced with crash litigation, they often incur settlement expenses.

“We knew we were not at fault in most accidents, so we wanted to eliminate the ‘he-said she-said’ incidents,” says Jeff Shefchik, president of De Pere, Wis.-based Paper Transport. “In the past two years since we installed the event recorders, we have been involved in a couple of severe accidents where we had zero liability, and without the video, we would have paid something to settle.”

Many fleets with video systems also are using them to proactively manage risk by identifying drivers in need of coaching before an accident happens.

“Being able to coach our drivers on risky behaviors like speeding has contributed to driver retention as well, because their improvement means we can keep them on,” says Clay Merches, vice president of safety and human resources for New Ulm, Minn.-based J&R Schugel. “We’ve seen some drivers improve from having numerous coachable events to zero events in a matter of weeks.”

Fleets offer tips for implementing camera systems

Despite the benefits that onboard video event recorders provide, most drivers still view them as yet another invasion of privacy inside the cab.

The potential blowback by drivers is reason enough for many carriers to not even attempt video event recorder use. But fleet executives that champion the systems say you shouldn’t be scared to make the leap. They say the key to a successful implementation is controlling the message you send to your drivers and demonstrating to them how the system can make them better drivers and also protect them in the event of an accident.

Jeff Shefchik

Trucks: 675
Drivers: 680
You need to spend time educating your drivers on how the camera works before you install them. Once installed, continue to show all your drivers videos of good and bad driver habits so they can see the benefit of the cameras.

Trucks: 329
Drivers: 334
You need to send the message to your drivers that you’re installing the units to protect them and that it’s not about not trusting the drivers. Having a camera facing the driver can help protect them in case of an accident. Get the message out to the drivers it’s not about watching them. We get applications all the time with drivers listing accidents – I bet a lot of them wished they could prove they were not at fault. If they could, it would improve their chances of working for fleets like Long Haul Trucking that only hire safe drivers.

Trucks: 970
Drivers: 1,020
Test several different companies to find the one that is best for you. We took nearly one and a half years to decide who to partner with.

Trucks: 1,464
Drivers: 1,766
You need to have your drivers’ buy-in. When drivers understand the camera system and how it is going to be used, they are good with it. There needs to be good communication and driver involvement leading up to deployment of cameras. There are many misperceptions of how and when the cameras are used. You need to stay in front of any rumors through good communication and driver interaction.

Trucks: 1,340
Drivers: 1,226
Don’t make the camera implementation punitive. Find a couple of testimonies that save a driver. Publish the mythbusters. Republish the mythbusters. Celebrate close calls where the driver’s actions prevented a collision.

Trucks: 1,383
Drivers: 1,581
The biggest hurdle is to get the driver to see that this is your friend and will prove you innocent. It is not a spy watching your every move. It’s your defense and shows we and they are not at fault, thus protecting driver and company from lawsuit and fault.

Trucks: 322
Drivers: 279
Communicate, communicate, communicate! We were very upfront with what our drive cams are and are not with our drivers. We showed footage and dispelled the rumors so they understood how the equipment worked and what we could and could not see. We had drivers pilot it and had them help communicate to the rest of the fleet what they knew about the event recorders.

ADAS: The building blocks of safety

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are comprised of several technologies that use onboard radar- and camera-based systems and sensors to scan the vehicle’s surroundings or detect unintended movement and automatically intercede on the driver’s behalf to prevent or lessen an accident’s severity. These are the most common components of modern safety systems on the market:

CMS employs several layers of technologies to reduce the chance of the truck being involved in a rear-end collision. As the system’s radar (some suppliers offer cameras in addition) scans the road ahead and detects a slower-moving or stationary object, CMS will issue audible, visual and/or haptic (touch) following distance and impact alerts. If the driver doesn’t intervene, CMS will deploy active braking (also called emergency brake assist), applying foundation brakes and de-throttling the engine.

ESC systems use sensors to monitor the vehicle’s directional control. When ESC senses loss of control, it automatically engages brakes and/or reduces engine throttle to help the driver regain control.

LDWS uses cameras to track the lane markings and road paint on either side of the vehicle. If the vehicle begins to leave its current lane and the driver hasn’t applied the turn indicator, LDWS can provide audible, visual and/or haptic alerts to signal the driver to take corrective action.

ACC is a driver-selected option that when engaged uses radar to detect following distances and automatically controls engine throttle and engages brakes to maintain a safe following distance behind a moving vehicle. ACC returns the truck to the preset speed when the forward vehicle increases speed or changes lanes.

Wingman Advanced Wingman Fusion OnGuard OnGuard Active OnLane Detroit Assurance 4.0
Following Distance Alerts
Overspeed Alerts
Impact Alerts
Stationary Object Alerts
Lane Departure Warning System
Adaptive Cruise Control
Active Engine Breaking
Active Foundation Breaking
Electronic Stability Control
Collision Mitigation
Freightliner/Western Star Cascadia, Cascadia CNG, M2, Western Star 5700 Cascadia, Cascadia CNG, M2, Western Star 5700 Cascadia, M2, Western Star 5700 2018 Cascadia
International LT ProStar; LT; Medium-duty DuraStar ProStar, LoneStar, TranStar LT LT, ProStar, LoneStar, TranStar
Kenworth Select Class 8 models; Medium -duty T270, T370 T680, T880 T680 T680, T880
Mack Pinnacle (natural gas)
Peterbilt All on-highway models; Medium-duty 337, 348 Models 579, 567 569, 579 569, 579 569, 579