Road freight occurs every single day, and accounts for almost all loads of freight. Whether it’s delivering from warehouses to the retailer, or if it’s transporting loads to the final destination having already travelled via air or sea freight – trucking is fundamental to the supply chain. According to government statistics, 149 billion tonne kilometres of goods were moved between April 2017 and March 2018. Above all, 18.7 billion vehicle kilometres were travelled by road hauliers. Whilst this figure is impressive, making those 18.7 billion kilometres safe is one of the highest priorities freight forwarders face. Safety not only matters to the driver, but also the pedestrians and surrounding traffic, as well as the load being carried itself.
Trucking manufacturers are discovering ways in which they can install technologies to make vehicles safer for haulage. The aim of these innovations are to assist the driver, encouraging vigilance and drawing attention to hazards from surrounding potential dangers. One feature you may be already familiar with is cruise control. Cruise control is the ability to set a speed (to the mph), which your vehicle will automatically travel at without the need to manually accelerate. At the touch of your brakes or acceleration pedal, the cruise control mode will cut out, and will give the driver full control over their speed again. The invention of cruise control was designed for safety and efficiency purposes when driving on long roads such as the motorway. This feature means that the driver doesn’t need to continually watch their speed dial to make sure they are sticking to the speed limit, particularly when driving through variable speed limits. As an additional perk, this also meant that drivers could drive at a required pace without having to keep their foot on the pedal, making mundane journeys easier.
Truck manufactures recognise that driving a truck already impairs the visibility a driver might have on the road. This is applicable for both vehicles and pedestrians around the truck – the general rule for vehicles behind a truck is if you can’t see the truck’s wing mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you either. However, many trucks are now fitted with multiple cameras around the vehicle in order to improve visibility of any obstructions or moving vehicles/pedestrians around them. Not only does this help in instances such as insurance footage, it also enhances vision in difficult-to-see places, such as blind spots and below the windscreen and dashboard.
Technologies such as speed awareness are now installed in a lot of trucks, meaning that it can detect the speed of a vehicle in front or behind you. If, for example, a vehicle in front of you brakes suddenly, the sensor will recognise that the distance between the truck and the vehicle has changed, and will send out a beeping sensor to alert the driver. This feature could prevent a collision, drawing attention to a danger. With the help of technologies such as these, the reaction time could be sped up, making the thinking time between acceleration and braking much shorter.
Image: The Highway Code. Thinking distance vs braking distance. Drivers are expected to learn and remember this to pass their driving theory test. Source: drivingtestsuccess.com
Finally, technology that are available in trucks is lane detection. This feature alerts the driver if the vehicle reports that the vehicle is drifting into another lane or is crossing lane markings. These technologies are adapted from satellite navigation, and are becoming widely installed in trucks to make journeys safer for truck drivers, especially for those who are travelling long or early hours of the morning.
Technological advancements for trucks are being fitted into more loading vehicles for road freight forwarders. These features are designed to keep people safe on the streets and roads, whether it is the truck driver themselves, or anyone surrounding them. There will, no doubt, be even more hazard-reducing features installed into trucks in the future, making our roads safer for everyone on them.
Rachel Jefferies, Editor, Freight Media