Saturday, March 8, 2014

US Road Haulage Freight Group Extends Safety Technology

In Cab Systems Aid Economy and Record Incidents
Shipping News Feature

US – Always a company that is keen on safety Con-way Freight, the less than truckload road haulage specialist and subsidiary of the logistics group Con-way Inc, has fully deployed Drive Safe Systems™ adding two more in-cab safety performance suites to the three existing ‘sense and alert’ on-board systems that have been factory-installed in every new Con-way Freight tractor since late 2009.

Con-way already deploy a lane departure warning system, which monitors a truck’s position relative to highway lane markings and issues an audible alert similar to traveling over a “rumble strip” if the operator unintentionally drives out of the lane, collision avoidance technology featuring forward-looking radar with adaptive cruise control, which continually measures distance to a vehicle ahead and automatically slows the truck if it is approaching too rapidly and the driver does not engage the brakes in a timely manner, plus a roll stability control feature which visually alerts the driver, and automatically decreases engine torque to reduce rollover tendency.

The first of these existing technologies known as the AutoVue® system was developed by Iteris and the latter two by Meritor WABCO. Now the vehicles will feature a product from driver safety technology company Lytx™ Inc. ‘DriveCam’, an event recorder, a compact, windshield-mounted unit that records activity inside and outside the cab. The recording is continuously erased unless the unit is triggered by an event such as hard braking, turning or rapid deceleration. When activated, the unit saves a 12-second audio and visual recording, eight seconds before and four seconds after the event. The recording and other supporting data is uploaded via cellular networks to a 'cloud-based' software application where it is subsequently shared with drivers to recognise exceptional defensive-driving performance which avoided an accident or incident, and provide coaching to identify opportunities to improve driving skills.

The second feature is from the Vnomics Corporation which is real time performance management system. This in-cab technology provides real-time feedback that helps the driver employ best practices for fuel-efficient driving and takes into account vehicle, road, load and environmental conditions, and gives the driver input in areas such as shifting ranges and pace of acceleration to achieve optimal fuel economy. Combined with other fuel-saving initiatives, this system is expected to gradually improve fuel economy by as much as 4% as drivers learn and apply its coaching features. On an annual basis, a 4% improvement would reduce diesel fuel use by 3.6 million gallons, eliminating 80 million pounds CO2 emissions.

Con-way Freight is the first LTL carrier in the US to simultaneously deploy both the event recorder and advanced performance management technologies fleet-wide. The company chose to adopt the technologies after an extensive pilot-testing program with several dozen drivers, who provided direct feedback on features, function, usability and effectiveness. Tom Clark, the company’s Senior Vice President of Operations, is enthusiastic about the developments, saying that proactive coaching aims to prevent behaviours shown to cause accidents and these days professional athletes and coaches use video and real-time data all the time to identify performance techniques that can be improved, he continued:

“We’re doing the same thing with our professional drivers and how they operate our trucks. It’s a fundamental shift in our approach. Before we reacted after-the-fact, analysing accidents and why they occurred. Now we’ve flipped the process, focusing instead on using technology and real-time information as a positive, proactive coaching experience to adjust behaviour, remove risk, prevent incidents and improve safety.

“Drive Safe Systems is first and foremost about supporting our drivers in the safe operation of our fleet and equipping them with tools to continuously learn and improve. These technologies provide real-time feedback and coaching that helps our drivers recognise and correct unsafe behaviour, ultimately reducing accidents and near-misses. We want to be proactive in preventing crashes from even happening, and that means investing in proven technologies that complement and enhance the driver’s professional skills.”