At the ATA Technology and Maintenance Council a panel of experts spoke about the use of safety technologies such as collision mitigation, lane departure systems, and cameras to reduce accidents.
The experts stated that these systems have all been proven to reduce accidents, however they are only effective is the proper maintenance and driver training has been implemented.
Onboard cameras not only promote safety driving but also provide liability protection for fleets, according to experts who spoke at a March 19 panel discussion here at the annual meeting.
“This is a very exciting time. We’re thrilled to see where this technology is going,” said Rick Reinoehl, senior vice president of safety and risk management at Covenant Transport. Covenant has seen a 40% drop in preventable rollovers since implementing electronic stability control and a 14% decline in trucks running off the road since adding lane departure warnings, he said. After deploying forward-collision mitigation, the fleet saw a 22% decrease in the frequency of rear-end collisions, as well as a decline in the severity of those accidents, he added.
Overall, the fleet’s Department of Transportation recordable accidents dropped 23% among trucks equipped with all of those safety systems, Reinoehl said.
Southeastern Freight Lines also reported significant safety gains.
In 2018, the fleet’s accident rate per million miles was 2.61 on trucks without active safety technology, but only 1.05 on trucks equipped with the technology, said Chris Reynolds, director of safety and security at SEFL.
To work effectively, however, these safety technologies must be installed and maintained properly.
Panelist agreed that maintenance is a challenge because many drivers will not report if the tools are not working properly. Giving drivers examples of how the camera and other safety systems have exonerated drivers from responsibly for an accident is the key to getting the drivers onboard with the systems.
Safety technology also can improve driving behavior.
SEFL’s Reynolds cited the Hawthorne effect, where people change their behavior when they know they’re being measured and observed. Moreover, it’s important to use information captured by the technology to support driver coaching, he said.
“Without a robust follow-up system, it’s only going to be sustained at a certain level because people will revert back to old behavior,” Reynolds said.
Brad Aller, regional director for fleet sales and service at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, also emphasized the importance of driver training.
“If we put a driver in a vehicle and we do not train them correctly, they do not know how the system is going to work,” he said. “They need to know what the system does and does not do.”
Fleets also should listen to drivers who complain about false activations, he added. Technical problems can stem from something as simple as a technician replacing a camera on the windshield but failing to put the bracket on correctly.
“A driver who is in a vehicle day in and day out knows how that vehicle should work,” he said. “A lot of times if they tell you there’s a problem with the system, there could be.”