Truck safety technology to improve your haulage journey
Driving an HGV is not an easy task; the vehicle you’re driving could weigh up to 40 tonnes, with limited visibility and manoeuvrability. Couple that with other drivers on the road, in smaller and more agile vehicles, it’s no surprise there’s a heightened risk of accident with an HGV.
Though ultimately the responsibility of being a safe driver is in the hands of the person behind the wheel, we have gathered some information on some truck safety technology that can be used to lessen the risk of accident or injury when on the road; keeping you and other, less experienced road users safe.
Consider Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
The simplest way to ensure that your driving experience will be safer is to have a vehicle full of truck safety technology. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are aiming to create an accident-free future, they are electronic systems created to assist a driver while using the vehicle with the purpose of increasing driver and road safety.
90% of road accidents are caused by human error, so technology to reduce this statistic is beneficial for all on the road. However, while ADAS may sound like a solution to these problems, and while Mark Fields (Ford’s Chief Executive) claimed we would see Ford mass-produce commercial driverless cars by 2021, they are still only an assistant to the driver. ADAS is powered by a wide range of technologies that help drivers identify and avoid potential hazards, either by alerting them or taking momentary control of the vehicle if the driver doesn’t react in time, but ultimately the driver is still in charge and should be in 100% control of the vehicle at all times. Instead, ADAS are, and should be seen as, a truck safety technology that is put in place to minimise the risk of accident and injury.
Advanced Driver Assistance System features:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Driver alerts
- Blindspot warnings
- Collision warning systems (CWS)
- Parking aids
- Electronic stability control (ESC)
- Lane assistance (lane departure warnings & lane keep assist systems (LKAS))
- Front side-view cameras
- Night vision
For the specifics on different ADAS features, take a look at Thatcham Research’s website.
Research shows that ADAS features like AEB and lane assistance could reduce motorway accidents by over 25% and AEB alone could reduce rear-end accident frequencies by over 30%. There is also an expected increase in demand for vehicles fitted with ADAS in 2020, with Ford expecting a growth of 14.1 million in extra global shipments and General Motors Group expecting an even bigger rise of 15.5 million.
While new HGV models, like the Mercedes Benz Actros and the Ford F-Max 500, have ADAS elements already in place and would be great candidates for fleet additions, replacing a whole truck is costly. Instead, there are companies who offer ADAS retrofitting for elements like blindspot detection and collision warning for fleets, so older vehicles can be updated to feature ADAS. However, if you’re still looking for simpler truck safety technology, there are other gadgets that can be used.
Invest in a hands-free device
Though using a phone while driving is illegal in the UK, in RAC’s 2018 Report on Motoring, 25% of people admitted to making or receiving a call while driving and 19% of drivers have checked texts, emails or social media when driving. In ‘Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2017 annual report’ 33 fatalities, 90 serious injuries and 308 less serious injuries were found to have mobile phones as a contributing factor. So, though the favourable option is to not use your mobile at all during a journey, on long-haul drives where phone calls may need to be answered, this isn’t always an option. In this case, the safest option is to opt for a hands-free device.
Hands-free devices will allow the driver to speak on the phone without having to physically operate their mobile phone. A good hands-free device for an HGV driver on long-haul journeys should feature good audio quality, be comfortable to wear for long periods and have easy to use buttons or voice command capability to keep eyes ahead and at least one hand on the wheel.
There’s no shortage of available hands-free devices, however, VXi BlueParrott B250-XT Xtreme Noise Suppression Bluetooth Headset has 16 hours of talk time on a single charge, excellent sound quality and noise cancellation with a walkie talkie/two-way radio through the VXi BlueParrot app. As a full headset with a padded earpiece, this device is ideal for long-haul drives and has plenty of positive customer reviews and ratings.
Get a trucking-specific GPS
Though it’s not an immediate hazard to not have a GPS, as a driver having a reliable and accurate GPS is important. Though there are plenty of options on the market (and there is also the ability to use your phone as a GPS), with narrow roads, low bridges and other obstacles for large trucks, having one dedicated to trucking would be a plus.
The Garmin Dezl 770LMTHD has a bright 7-inch screen and can be customised to include your vehicle’s size and weight, allowing it to find routes that will work best for you as well as allowing you to enter all your stops along the way. With Bluetooth connectivity, this GPS can give you directions and alerts directly into your earpiece and has information on truck-specific stops and repair shops. If you would like to plot in a specific truck stop on your next route, take a look at our guide to ‘The best UK truck stops for resting HGV drivers’.
It also has lifetime map updates so the unit will never go out of date, providing you update the software regularly.
Reduce liability with a dashcam
Dashcams aren’t truck safety technology that will prevent or stop accidents, but they will lessen the risk of increased insurance premiums that come with higher deductibles and more liability. With crashes, vandalism and theft being a possibility and a risk in the haulage industry, dash cams aid in reducing liability in these cases and are also a great way to monitor your HGV if you’re not in the cab.
Much like the GPS, there are plenty of options out there for dash cams, however, finding one that will work best in your HGV is the main focus. The BlackVue DR750S-2CH has front and rear cameras that have Full HD Sony STARVIS image sensors to give the best possible image quality in any lighting, as well as in active or parked mode. With a front-facing camera that records at 60 frames per second, all detail (like licence plates and features) will have impressively reduced blur when compared to other dash cams on the market. The free BlackVue app for iOS or Android also allows you to connect to your dashcam and see what it’s recording on your smartphone at any point, meaning there is no need for a bulky screen, and the onboard wifi also allows easy file transfer should evidence of an accident need to be sent.
Increase your blind spot vision with truck safety technology
Side guards and mirrors can improve blind spots but they don’t give complete visibility, in fact, almost 80% of serious cyclist accidents happen within 20 metres of a junction, with many likely due to drivers not being able to see their blinds spots. The rear of an HGV is also an issue, with there being no solely rear-focused view of the road, and though this is less of a concern than the front and sides, this can still cause problems.
HGV drivers should always ensure that they check their mirrors before moving off, turning or changing lanes, they should also give plenty of signal time before they move and eliminate distractions during manoeuvres. However, there is also truck safety technology that can assist and reduce these blindspots.
At Stoneridge, we offer front, side and rear-view cameras with in-cab monitors to completely eliminate HGV blind spots. Our CornerEye Camera System has a wide-angle lens to give a 270-degree view field of vision around the front and side of the truck. This gives the driver an increased vision in real-time around the truck from one image feed through their in-cab HD monitor. CornerEye meets and exceeds the obligatory Class V & VI and was developed to improve the safety of the driver and other road users, reduce the number of accidents and the level of damage; by giving the driver an excellent view of blind spots.
There is a wide range of truck safety technology and useful gadgets out there to choose from, however, ensuring that you are always in 100% control of your HGV is key to keeping yourself and others safe. However, if you are on the roads, don’t forget to take along a power bank to keep all your tech fully powered.
If you have used any of the products mentioned above, or have suggestions of your own, let us know on Twitter by tagging us at @stoneridge_uk. For more hints and tips on HGV driving, you can head to this section of our website, and if you would like some more information on our SE5000 Exakt Duo2 Digital Tachograph or about the newly introduced Smart Tachographs and our SE5000 Connekt, you can head onto our dedicated SE5000 website.