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Safety via Tablet PC - The Trucking Industry's Renewed Frontier

Technology is the driving force behind safety in the trucking industry. Between 1975 and 2007, there was a 148-percent reduction in fatal, truck-related crashes per 100 million miles driven. This reduction is largely the result of technological improvements: better roads, better trucks and better fleet management systems.

Unfortunately, trucks are still involved in 12 percent of all fatal automotive accidents each year (with Class 7 and Class 8 trucks accounting for 90 percent of the trucks involved in such accidents). In addition to being devastating for friends, family and loved ones, such accidents are incredibly expensive. In 2008, the average cost of a crash that involved a truck was just over $100,000.

Rugged Tablet PC for TransportationA leading strategy for improving truck safety -- and mitigating both loss of life and loss of money -- is to implement rugged mobile computing technology. By outfitting the trucks in your fleet with ruggedized tablet PCs, you can take advantage of the numerous systems that are designed to automate truck safety. Such systems can initiate actions, without operator intervention, and warn drivers about dangerous conditions to directly prevent accidents.

Underlying these trucking safety systems is a technology that has been a topic of debate since the mid-1990s: electronic onboard recorder (EOBR). An EOBR generates data about a driver’s behavior and can then serve as an early-warning system for behaviors that could potentially lead to accidents. Specifically, EOBRs activate recordings during sudden decelerations, sudden accelerations or specific speed triggers.

While initially seen as intrusive, many drivers are now embracing EOBR technology because it improves safety and  saves them time on paperwork. Instead of manually entering data each day, drivers can use electronic log systems, which are powered by EOBR, to record hours of service. As a result, drivers can save between 20 and 40 minutes each day -- and 50 hours each year -- on pre-trip preparation, calculating load assignments, crossing borders, preparing for roadside inspections and changing duty statuses. From a safety perspective, having a ruggedized tablet PC onboard that is equipped with an electronic log system can limit driver fatigue and drowsiness, which are common causes of accidents.

Other truck safety systems that can be implemented through rugged mobile computing technology include the following:

  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Systems: In 2006, 58 percent of automotive-related fatalities were the result of lane departures, and according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), a lane departure occurs once every 21 minutes on U.S. roads. By outfitting the ruggedized tablet PCs in your fleet’s trucks with LDWs, you can help prevent run-off-road and sideswipe accidents that result from inadvertent lane changes. Recently, five fleets reported an average decrease of 77 percent in lane change-related accidents following a combined 712 million miles with LDW systems.Rugged Tablet PC for Transportation
  • Speed Monitoring Systems: More than 40 percent of all traffic accidents involving trucks occur when trucks are operating at speeds at or above 55 miles per hour. In addition, excessive speed contributes to 30 percent of all fatal accidents involving trucks. On-board speed monitoring systems allow your fleet managers to identify, monitor and rate drivers who are engaging in dangerous driving behavior, thereby reducing the potential for accidents.
  • Truck Safety Training Programs: In addition to monitoring drivers, ruggedized tablet PCs can serve as interactive safety tools. By completing truck safety training programs using the tablet PCs, drivers can learn about -- and adopt -- safe driving behaviors. The programs rely on EOBR technology, so they only function when a truck is at rest. When a truck’s motor begins to run, the program automatically shuts off. Your fleet managers can use mobile computing technology to observe the safety training progress of drivers.

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