Trucking has come a long way both literally and figuratively. Truckers drive millions of miles yearly crisscrossing the nation to deliver life’s necessities.
Often maligned and generally ignored, they are the economy’s lifeblood. This nation would grind to a slow, painful business and financial halt without truck deliveries.
These over the road haulers live a life very different from most people. We all know truck driving can take its toll on driver health. Additionally, they can never recover lost time away from family.
Beginning in the 1990’s, just like every other business and industry, technology began to ease some of the burden and aggravation.
Technology continues to improve. It is now playing an ever growing role. It makes a truck driver’s life on the road more comfortable and efficient.
Through technology, truck driving is not what it used to be. Below we list and explain some of the technology drivers enjoy and appreciate.
About 10 years ago, the UNLV Engineering Department, undertook a study of what they then termed the “Digital Highway”. The US Department of Transportation sponsored the research.
It was basically a study of the national highway system and the future impact technology would play. They defined the digital highway as the physical and operational characteristics of the nation’s highway system.
They developed a website which monitored 15 miles of a Nevada highway. It tracked lane locations and closures, exit ramp locations and traffic, and current weather conditions. At the time, this was really dynamic stuff.
Since then, these technologies have been refined and many more added. Truck drivers are now using:
- Collision avoidance technology
- Routing guidance
- Loss Prevention
Digital Technology: Sophisticated Camera Setups
Cameras in cabs are not new. Dash cams have been in use for some time. The big difference is in the quality of the images they can produce. They now produce much clearer images at night than they once did.
These technologically advanced cameras have greater storage capacity, and they are much smaller than they once were. Some of these cameras feature advanced scene recognition.
Cameras with scene recognition mode set use sensors which recognize changes measured against its stored image of what the scene should look like.
They use 3D tracking to gauge the amount of light present and relative distance from an object. This feature aids greatly with recording what happened from beginning to end.
Additionally, trucking companies are also using more than one camera on their trucks. These improvements make for a much better, more complete view of what actually happened during an accident. Truckers now have clear video evidence on their side.
Digital Technology: Collision Avoidance Technology
This sensing technology makes driving big trucks less dangerous. It is referred to as the Traffic Collision Avoidance System or TCAS.
When this first came out, it sent too many false signals to be of much use. Over the years it has greatly improved. The sensors can now discriminate more clearly between what is a potential danger and what is not.
TCAS uses video and radar to monitor the road. The short-range radar detects obstacles in the truck path. It also watches, through the use of sensors, the immediate area around the truck. It even watches that infamous blind spot and alerts drivers.
Collision technology development only continues to get better. The next wave of collision technology is focusing on truck driver behavior, and how it can lower truck collisions.
Digital Technology: Truck Routing Technology
How quickly and efficiently trucks get from point A to point B is critical. Routing is one of the keys for accomplishing this.
There is now technology that allows the truck to bypass weigh stations. Truck data gets sent ahead to the weigh station. The truck can pass without wasting the time and fuel the stop consumes. This is a big time and fuel saver.
Using current GPS information, the driver can now avoid snarled traffic more often. It can also adjust routes to reduce mileage. Traffic and weather information lets the driver know ahead of time what he is heading into.
Digital Technology: Loss Prevention Technology
Keeping track of all the trailers loaded with valuable cargo is a foremost concern. GPS tracking and monitoring help eliminate the confusion over keeping up with loads. They physically attach a device to the truck and a system monitors the trailer.
GPS systems also feed information to the fleet management team. It warns of high crime areas and increased loss potential. In short, GPS helps with better trailer usage and management. It tells where the trailer is, how it is being used and its full or empty status.
These technologies of the digital highway are examples of how the trucking industry is seizing upon the latest innovations to improve itself by making the long haul trucker’s life easier.