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  • Allen Czermak

Up To Date Technology In The Trucking Industry

I remember many years ago when a relative of mine came up with the brilliant idea of GPS tracking. She called me on the phone to share her invention and we were so excited about such an efficacious possibility. Unfortunately, many of us have impressive ideas that do not come to fruition due either to lack of confidence, funds, or both.

Now of course sophisticated GPS systems often come standard in vehicles ranging from cars, airplanes, and trucks. Besides GPS navigational systems there are other innovative safety mechanisms available for trucks that help both the driver and the motor carrier owners. Haulers who stay on the road for weeks at a time benefit safety and mileage wise from the latest advancements in auto technology. Their business counterpart at home or the drayage company that is monitoring them gain from being assured that they know the whereabouts and efficiency of their drivers and their machines.

The use of individual or combined systems is currently called telematics The French word télématique, is where the term telematics originated and became popular in the United States in the 1970s and is now commonly used to refer to the intersection of information technology and telecommunications.

Dual Dash Cams

Dash cams have been around for a while in differing industries specifically in law enforcement.

When a cop wears a dash cam he can monitor and be monitored by his superiors at the police department. Now some might claim that this could be an invasion of privacy, but time has proven that these dash cams can exonerate policemen who were forced to use their weapons.

The same goes for the trucking industry since some may claim that the trucker loses his privacy on the road but at the same time his safety is monitored constantly. If there's an accident, a fleet dash cam can help ensure exoneration of the innocent trucker.

Truck dash cams are constructed to be the least intrusive type of video camera and mounted dually in the front and back of the vehicle. The road facing camera can track any unlawful occurrences either by the driver or someone else on the road who can or does cause a serious accident. The primary purpose of these dash cams is to improve driver safety by improving the driver’s conduct on the road and having video footage available that will be used as evidence in favor of the trucker.

One of the most important reasons that the trucking companies utilize dash cams in their commercial transport is when a business has to shell out exorbitant amounts of cash for penalties incurred by members of their fleet. These fines can be so high that the whole company can be in jeopardy if there are no witnesses to the accident. The video footage will uncover what happened before, during and after the accident, prevent conflicting statements from all involved parties and help authorities document accurately what occurred and how much if any penalties are involved.

Dash cams are very effective in coaching novice drivers who have just started going for the long haul. With a dash cam camera facing the road, the supervisor at home can see exactly what the truck driver sees when they are actually behind the wheel. Previous footage from dash cams can help the driver learn from his or her mistakes and how to prevent them in the future.

Truck dash cams can be compared to home security cameras in the way they store information and how much information is stored and for how long. Trip videos are recorded on micro SDs or memory cards for internet connected dash cams which automatically upload the videos to I cloud storage. The only problem with internet connected videos is that there could be no connection to the truck at the time of an incident. You may want to consider regular filming in addition to the internet recording, yet the main benefit of the internet access is that you can view what is happening inside and outside the truck in real time.

Sharp video quality is essential when viewing or reviewing the truck trip video since you want to be able to see all persons, objects, and images such as license plates distinctly. Dash cameras come with a variety of lenses such as WDR (wide dynamic range) providing quality HD resolutions and IP68 (dustproof/waterproof).

The reason for monitoring the driver is not only to supervise and criticize him or her but to praise the driver’s performance when the supervisor notices a good decision by the driver. For the driver, these videos can help him or her change her driving behavior behind the wheel making it a win win option for both the drivers and their supervisors.

An extremely important advantage for a trucking or drayage company to use dash cams in their vehicles is the relationship with the insurance company that insures the trucks and their drivers. Each state has their own standards of dash cams and insurance discounts but in any case, being able to actually prove that your driver was not at fault will decrease the chances of higher insurance rates in the future.

Many problems occur for truckers when their vehicles are parked while they go into a road stop to freshen up, eat or take a rest. If someone attempts to steal or damage the vehicle it will be much easier to claim compensation from the insurance company. On the other side of the coin, trucking companies accused of making false claims will be able to justify those claims with backup video.

An example of telematics for stolen vehicles just happened last week on a Minnesota highway when a group of rowdy teens crashed the vehicle they stole and ran off. A video camera was able to show police how the stolen Kia rammed the median to avoid the police. The rental car company contacted the police explaining that their video camera showed that the car was headed into the direction of St. Paul. A state patrol helicopter used the coordinates from the GPS tracker to find the car just as it stopped at the intersection of Dale and Portland streets in ST. Paul.

Electronic Logging Devices

In the past long-haul truckers needed to get phone calls from their dispatchers for up-to-date arrival times to their destinations as well as having to regularly fill out paper logs for records, delays, stopovers, weather problems and destinations but with ELD’s (electronic logging devices) these steps are no longer necessary because the logging is automatic.

An ELD is a removable tablet that is a communication device between the driver and mentor or dispatcher. Many of the popular ELDs are equipped with cameras that record the drivers’ activities and gather information of how long the driver works, to message other truckers, when to take a break, and monitor the truck's speeds. The mentor at the controls in the home office can help the driver learn about his driving methods such as hard braking, fast acceleration, or patterns of slowing down. By the way, the most commonly stolen vehicles in the United States are company trucks and even when the trucks are parked overnight most dual dash cams will continue recording.

Trucking Apps

Most people have a great variety of apps on their phones, both practical and recreational. Well, so do truck drivers. We all are on schedules to get to appointments on time or get our kids to school or other activities promptly and a truck driver must keep to a rigid schedule since getting to their destination on time is only one point in the efficiency of the drayage industry. If a truck is delayed, then truckloads of merchandise will be delayed meaning disaster in certain industries such as perishable foods in refrigerator and freezer haulers. Truckers can readily access important information such as weather, traffic, best gas prices and rest stops on Apps such as Drivewyze, GasBuddy and Trucker Path. For example, Trucker Path is a GPS system especially designed for trucks since regular car mapping systems may fail to take trucks on appropriate highways on roads legal for only cars.

Final Words

Telematics is the all-inclusive term used to describe the latest innovations to manage risk and to make operations of fleets safer and more efficient. Each fleet has different requirements for technological systems so for each individual truck the optimum telematic system will combine all the latest devices and software, some of which were mentioned above. For better fleet performance, telematics will help trucking companies stay ahead of their competitors by using the latest technology available for their long haulers and these tracking and video systems are beneficial to both the truckers and their superiors. At the beginning, such a system will seem intrusive, similar to how a family feels when they have video surveillance cameras inside and outside their homes. However, most truckers will realize sooner or later that when their safety is in jeopardy these devices could and do save lives.

Each fleet owner must use their own intuition to ensure that their drivers will not feel threatened by the intrusion of these trackers but once the truckers realize that they are not called out on every minor incident they will begin to trust the system and realize that it is for their benefit as well as in the interest of the fleet owner.

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