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Boosting safety with technology

Jan. 9, 2008
A variety of technologies are being increasingly viewed as a curative for many of the trucking industry’s safety ills, especially in terms of reducing highway crashes

A variety of technologies are being increasingly viewed as a curative for many of the trucking industry’s safety ills, especially in terms of reducing highway crashes.

“We believe we could reduce by 20% to 33% the number of truck crashes on our highways today using technology that is currently available, such as stability control and lane-departure warning systems,” said John Hill, chief administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), during a recent phone conference with reporters to discuss the agency’s new hours of service (HOS) rulemaking efforts.

Hill pointed to the value of electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs), the so-called “black boxes” that would electronically monitor and record a driver’s on- and off-duty time to make sure they are in compliance with HOS rules. “I very much believe in this technology – I believe it works well,” he said. “The greatest gain with EOBRs is the ability to watch violators, the ones who frequently don’t follow HOS rules. It has the potential to save lives.”

According to research by Virginia Tech Transport Institute, human factor accounts for 90% of accidents, with driver inattentiveness due to tiredness or distraction the largest and most significant cause of accidents.

To combat that issue, Volvo Technology Transfer, a division of Sweden’s Volvo Group, is investing in new “Seeing Machines” developed by an Australian company that detect and warn vehicle drivers in the event of tiredness.

According to Stig Fagerståhl, a Volvo Technology Transfer engineer, Seeing Machines include a small camera that automatically detects signs of driver tiredness and distraction. A calculation program processes the information from images and measures the position of the head and rotation, eye movements and eyelid behavior. The degree of tiredness in the driver is measured by registering how the eyes open and close and should the driver close his/her eyes, this is registered directly, he said.

“We hope that this technology will reduce the number of accidents on our roads and become an important feature in safety efforts at vehicle manufacturers,” noted Fagerståhl.

View more Fleet Owner news relating to trucking safety, trucking regulations and driver awareness.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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