Rising insurance premiums and policies that go unrenewed because of safety issues are driving the trucking industry to analyze the problem of driver distractedness more carefully.
Cell phone usage is an obvious culprit while eating, drinking, smoking, and reaching for objects in the cab are also responsible for drivers diverting their attention from the road. Luckily, new technology is available that can alert fleet managers to potential problems before they result in a costly accident.
One such solution is offered by San Diego-based company Lytx which manufactures and sells video telematics products used by commercial and public-sector fleets to help improve driver safety and productivity.
According to the Lytx website, its MV+AI (machine vision plus artificial intelligence) technology “helps identify distraction and risk, both inside and outside of the vehicle, including cell phone usage, eating or drinking, smoking, seat belt use, general inattentiveness, failure to stop at intersections, weaving within or departing from lanes and unsafe following distances.”
The MV+AI system alerts drivers and helps “empower” them to alter behavior in “real-time to avoid potential collisions.” In addition, fleet managers can use video footage and “comprehensive dashboards” to track drivers and ensure accountability.
Another company providing similar technology is Ontario, Canada-based Zenduit, whose Driver Distraction Camera measures both driver fatigue and distractedness.
According to the company’s website, “The detection is focused on a driver’s physical indicators, such as gaze direction and facial features that reflect a driver’s overall alertness.” The camera also produces a sound alert when it detects problems.
Texas-based Solera Fleet Solutions offers an eDriving solution. According to Solera’s website, eDriving provides risk reduction (over 80% reduction in risky events), privacy protection, and automatic crash detection which sends out an alert. The product is available for big rigs, light-duty trucks, and private vehicles.
Michal Yariv, vice president, and general manager of strategic initiatives for Solera Fleet Solutions said, “We now have the ability to notice the driver doesn’t have a seat belt on. Or the driver’s eyes are looking drowsy. And we can give some sort of audible warning to the driver and let them know that they’re doing something dangerous.”
North Carolina-based Best Logistics has been using software from San Diego-based Netradyne to decrease insurance claims and improve driver safety. Netradyne products, including the Driver•i fleet dashcam, provide real-time alerts, and actionable data for improving safety, and transparency for drivers.
The dashcam, mounted on the cab’s windshield, uses artificial intelligence to identify road signs, signals, and pedestrians while delivering data in real-time. The system’s alerts operate with more than 98% accuracy.
The Netradyne system has an onboard coaching feature to alert drivers to what the camera is detecting. “Hopefully drivers respond to that” with more attentive driving, said Brannan Ekins, safety supervisor for Best Logistics. “Some of them get pretty upset with it. We know why they’re distracted and if we need to follow up with a coaching discussion, we can do that now.”