Those were some of the words I used almost 20 years ago when introducing the Truck Productivity Computer. It was a computer that replaced the radio, had GPS, and voice recognition. Multiple companies could run applications on it. It could record drivers’ hours of service. It could do lots of things. But, then came the dot-com bust.
Well, today lots of people are racing to put a multi-purpose computer into the cab to handle hours of service and much more. Alas and alack, I don’t think we’ve accomplished the goal of keeping the driver from being distracted. I just reviewed a press release and a video from one of the many purveyors of ELDs. And, I’ve seen what the latest and newest trucks have for interface to the driver.
Here’s what I see. I’d love to show a picture, but we’d probably get in trouble. The truck in this video had a CB microphone hanging down in the middle of the cab. In the middle, at the top of the windshield were two toll tags. I’ve seen other trucks with half a dozen such devices in the middle. This truck did not have a camera system at the top and middle of the windshield. Mounted to the windshield on a holder was the driver’s personal mobile phone. The ELD was a tablet mounted on a bracket off the right side of the angled dash structure. On the B-Panel of the dash was another cell phone. Another aftermarket device I don’t recognize was also attached to the dash. Several cords for earphones or power were wrapped around the trailer hand brake lever. Another tablet-like device was mounted to the top of the dash and just left of the center of the windshield.
New trucks have lots of information being displayed in the center of the instrument cluster, along with several levers on the steering column for turn signal, cruise control, steering column adjustment, lights, and more.
I hope this is not the best we can do to keep the driver’s
- Eyes on the road
- Hands on the wheel, and
- Driver control of information flow.