Jan 1, 2006 12:00 PM
COLLISION avoidance technology, video cameras in the truck cab, and satellite tracking — and how the equipment contributes to safety were discussed at the National Association of Chemical Distributors Operations Seminar and Trade Show September 14-16 in San Jose, California.
Technology can be used as a training tool to improve driver performance, said Thom Thomas of AIG Consultants Inc. “It's a great way to communicate with the driver,” he added.
Collision avoidance technology warns drivers when objects are too near their vehicles. The data collected in the programs also can be used in accident investigations, he said.
Thomas was joined in the discussion by Fred Clark of XL Environmental and James Simmons of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Clark pointed out that whatever technology is chosen for a fleet, it should fit the safety program. At the same time, when data is produced, it must be evaluated and appropriate action taken in order for the technology to be effective.
Simmons noted that FMCSA is involved in ongoing field operational tests that are looking at various technology companies' products. Systems recently tested include emergency shutdown programs that can be initiated by a dispatcher, driver, or loss of a signal from the truck.
Video cameras mounted in the truck cab monitor driver performance and are easy to review, Thomas said. They are particularly helpful in later training sessions because they record near-misses that can be evaluated.
He also noted technological advancements that record vehicle speed, rapid deceleration, tire pressure, engine and brake performance, and fuel usage. In addition, programs are available that monitor driver hours of service.
Clark pointed out that the data can be used in hazard management, such as evaluating and preventing driver fatigue.
Further research underway at FMCSA includes studying untethered trailer tracking, expanded satellite-based communications, and further vehicle disabling, said Simmons.
He added that the Department of Homeland Security also is considering security field operational tests.
However, Simmons emphasized that while the security benefits are great, technology alone can't solve all the problems. And, the FMCSA studies only considered safety and security in its evaluations and did not examine other possible advantages for carriers.
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