June 5, 2023
How Technology Is Impacting The Motor Carrier Industry
As technology improves, the trucking industry is benefiting from faster processes, increased safety, and simplified tasks. Read on to learn more about some of the newest advancements in technology and how they’re changing the day-to-day activities of the motor carrier industry.
Updates to safety features
Safety is one of the biggest concerns in the industry, so it’s no surprise that several technological advancements have been geared towards increasing safety while on the road, particularly when it comes to driver fatigue.
A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that driver alertness is more closely related to what time of the day it is rather than how long they’ve been driving. Most drivers try to do their driving during the day when they are operating at their best, but night driving isn’t entirely unavoidable and alertness “tricks” such as rolling the window down or blasting the radio tend to only last a few moments. That’s where technology is stepping in to help fill the gap and keep drivers alert and safe while on the road.
The newest advancements to safety technology differ in how they look and operate. Sometimes it’s a device that you, the driver, wear (such as a specialized bracelet) that collects your driving data and sets off an alarm when you might be getting drowsy. Other devices attach directly to the rig to measure brake and acceleration patterns to make sure you’re driving safely over time — they can even track how long it’s been since you used their turn signal!
Another recent advancement that’s improving safety is smart dashboards. Smart dashboards are making it easier for drivers to see important information up front and giving them the ability to customize their display to show specific alerts and data throughout a trip. Dash-cams are also becoming increasingly common because of their ability to record footage that can protect you during a collision or other possible liability incidents and this is great for drivers because over 75% of crashes involving a commercial vehicle were the fault of a non-commercial vehicle.
All of these advancements are increasing road safety by encouraging good driving habits and adding extra measures to protect drivers from their biggest enemy: fatigue. The newest trucks on the road often come pre-equipped with safety features such as lane departure warnings, better braking systems, and alarms that go off to alert truckers to their own fatigue, all of which can help prevent accidents and, in some cases, even help lower your insurance premium, which will save you money over time. A lot of these systems, like lane assist and automatic breaking are relatively new and far from perfect. A lot of drivers hate them because of their imperfections, phantom breaking is a real thing. They will get better as time goes on, for the sake of anyone who drives a truck with those systems, let’s hope they get better sooner rather than later.
More data, more loads
Smart technology in trucks is helping drivers plan shipments more effectively so they avoid having an empty truck on the way back home. Improvements in the data gathering world have made it possible for applications to take your real-time truck location information and plug it into a database to find more cargo running options based on your unique situation for that day — it can even consider outside factors like the weather or traffic patterns in real-time! This helps you plan better and reduce dead-head miles.
Additionally, phone apps can now show thousands of loads and details about the market in an instant. These tools can help drivers find areas that have an imbalance of supply and demand and better understand their local markets. Drivers can also expect to see better and more precise tracking devices in the future. Internet of Things devices, or IoT devices for short, are expanding internet capabilities, allowing multiple devices to connect with each other (think Alexa technology). This opens new doors for better freight tracking and more accurate delivery predictions.
Broader possibilities for reducing drag
Experiencing aerodynamic drag is a reality for all rigs on the road and most drivers learn quickly that investing in wheel covers, rear tail fairings, and other equipment to decrease wind resistance can drastically improve their overall fuel economy.
Understanding and improving aerodynamic potential isn’t a new concept to the industry, but it has garnered increased attention recently — largely because of its potential to counteract the ever-rising price of fuel — which has led to several new innovations in the design of the rig itself. Truck designs are getting more and more precise in terms of aerodynamics. Mirrors, bumpers, and hoods on new trucks today have all recently received an upgrade that includes aerodynamic tweaks to their overall design.
If you’re in the market to buy a rig, be sure to ask the seller about which of the newest aerodynamic improvements are included on your potential rig. If they don’t know, maybe you need a more informed seller.
More comfortable ride
Sitting in one seat for hours at a time takes a toll on your health and your body. Though many drivers do their best to counter the lack of physical movement when they can, technology is making changes to cab interiors to increase driver comfort and improve the functionality.
More and more cabs are adopting the design principle behind ergonomics, which is designing with the user in mind. If you have to sit, it may as well be easy on your body. That’s why today’s trucks often include ways to modernize and change your interior access and space with the click of a few buttons. Think easy-to-use navigation systems, seats with cooling and heating options, etc.
More vehicles come equipped with parts, such as a steering wheel or seat, that can be easily adjusted to increase driver comfort. While some of these came with this adjustment capability years ago, technology is increasing the depth and precision of the options to echo the best practices for ergonomics. For example, seats now come with reduced pressure point areas. If you’re a shorter driver in terms of height, modern cabs now have more options to redesign or tweak your cab interior to better accommodate your stature. These changes are making it easy for drivers to make their environments adapt to them and their body type instead of trying to force their bodies to adapt to uncomfortable environments.
Having options to redesign your cab to be more ergonomic can help all body shapes, sizes, and heights, and it increases driver safety. No longer will drivers have to strain and stretch to reach the equipment they need; instead, they can comfortably sit and operate a truck that’s customized to fit their needs.