Common safety issues in the trucking industry and how technology can aid
There is no secret to any reputable business owner that improvement in technology can make operations run faster, more efficient, and, above all, safer. Safety for both employees and clients should be amongst the top priorities of any business, especially for the transportation industry.
Drivers are on the road all day, ensuring goods reach their destination in good shape and in a timely manner. When you add road hazards to all of the things they need to keep an eye on, you get a person who needs to keep their reflexes sharp at any moment of the day. Luckily, technology has come to the aid of truck drivers everywhere, making their job a little easier and safer.
Below, we will explore a few of the most common safety issues the trucking industry is confronted with and how technology can come to help.
Drivers need to keep their attention up, otherwise accidents can happen. And when you are constantly on the road, there is no room for accidents. The Virginia Tech Institute released data which suggests that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident, so drivers need to have their mind on the task.
Distracted driving is not only caused by a lack of ability to stay focused, but because of multitasking as well. Attentive driving means being able to monitor speed, watch for other vehicles or pedestrians, steer and brake safely, but when you try to do all this while changing GPS coordinates or answering a client call, it can become dangerous.
To avoid such issues, trucking companies need to aid drivers by providing them with state-of-the-art devices, which allow voice control. Most modern phones and GPS tools provide such options for years, which means business owners don’t need to purchase the latest technology available.
Slips and falls
Accidents caused by slips and falls are one of the biggest safety problems in the trucking industry, especially during winter, when ice coats the roads and vehicles. When they enter or exit the vehicle, drivers must use three points of contact to ensure they prevent accidents. This should, in theory, be enough to keep such accidents to the minimum. Still, when you are entering and exiting the same vehicle countless times a day, you tend to become used to it, and the more comfortable you are with performing a certain task, the less attention you give it.
To prevent these issues from happening, trucks need to be equipped with anti-slip features such as truck steps or coat the floor at the entry and exit point with anti-slip coating. But this is not enough, as these accidents can happen due to a lot of factors, such as rush, distractions or tiredness. Through proper training, drivers can be made aware of these issues and coached on how to prevent them. Technology can help us get access to a variety of safety training courses, which drivers can take at their own convenience, eliminating the need for classroom training.
Rushed vehicle inspections
Before they enter and right after they exited the truck, drivers need to perform a walkaround and examine if there is anything that seems to be wrong with the vehicle. Unfortunately, oftentimes, these inspections are not performed as they should be, which can lead to problems going unnoticed. Situations that can cause a rushed inspection are many, including bad weather or being in a hurry.
What companies do wrong is they forget to remember drivers how important these inspections are. Making walkthroughs mandatory does little to help if employers don’t monitor drivers or provide the necessary support. Building a culture of responsibility will help drivers understand that, for a good collaboration, their work needs to be performed in a safe and responsible way.
Another thing employers can do is equip trucks with sensors that monitor key elements of the vehicle and sends an alert to drivers if an issue is being spotted. When potential issues are noticed early on, the company saves money, time, and resources and can continue to conduct its operations efficiently.
Despite many trucking companies conducting driver safety training periodically, when people feel rushed or annoyed by other traffic participants, they tend to ignore what they have learned and take unnecessary risks. This can lead to aggressive driving, which is the main ingredient of a road accident.
Trucking companies need to include anger management and focus training to help drivers control their impulses when frustration or anger arises. This helps employees understand the human factor that is involved in their impulsive reactions and reduce car crashes.
Another way to reduce vehicle accidents is by installing video recording systems and monitors on the truck to ensure the driver sees everything happening around the truck when they drive. This removes blind spots, which can often happen on the road.
Exhaustion is one of the most dangerous states a driver can be in. But when you drive for long hours every day, exhaustion can easily be brushed off as a normal condition, which can be endured if you push forward. But think of it this way: when drivers are exhausted, they are not just some tired people. They become safety hazards for anyone present on the road at that moment, as well as for themselves.
Exhaustion slows down reaction times, decreases concentration levels by almost 50%, and increases irritability. In fact, studies show that 17 hours awake is the equivalent of 0.05 BAC, while 21 hours awake is the equivalent for 0.08 BAC, which is the legal limit in many countries.
Sure, drivers should be sleeping enough and never get behind the wheel when they are tired, but unexpected situations can happen at any time, so it’s better to be prepared. Autonomous trucks are still fantasy, but autopilot sensors can be installed on the trucks and aid drivers when they are in need. When technology and humans work together, everything becomes simpler and safer.