Vehicle Safety Technologies

There is no doubt that intelligent vehicle safety technologies have made heavy trucks safer than ever before. Two such technologies that have been shown to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities, and thus help reduce operational costs – are...

• SafetyDirect Fleet Performance System. Through a strategic partnership with Iteris, this system gives users a single point-of-access to monitor and synchronize driver performance reports on braking, stability control, following distances, collision safety system braking and lane-departure warnings for individual drivers, as well as the entire fleet. The comprehensive reporting includes event location, date, time, speed, odometer reading and safety trending data.

A web-based reporting tool, SafetyDirect uses an onboard data logger to capture and report driving behavior, vehicle characteristics and severe events. The data logger is installed on the vehicle and interfaces with the truck’s SAE J1939 data link. Data is automatically saved and transferred, using an existing telematics provider, to a website, where it can be accessed by fleet managers.

With SafetyDirect, fleet managers are able to set parameters and individual thresholds for severe events and get automated, customized reports. They can get a comprehensive view of the entire fleet, or drill down to detailed information on individual drivers and events.

SafetyDirect enables users to compare the performance of drivers within a fleet - even track their performance in different trucks, monitoring each driver’s or group’s performance over time.

SafetyDirect also provides important information on vehicle and equipment status. It monitors the safety system status, including Lane Departure Warning DW, OnGuard and SmartTrac stability control systems. In addition, SafetyDirect monitors fuel mileage and safety system fault codes.


Another type of vehicle safety technology is obstacle detection systems. This technology can monitor side and rear blind areas or “no zones” for vehicles and pedestrians in order to see what the human eye cannot, says Kirk Knobel, sales and marketing manager for Transportation Safety Technologies (TST), a leader in the design and manufacture of a wide array of electronic components for all types of commercial vehicles.

Obstacle detection systems “provide drivers with obstacle location and precise distance information to identify hazards in blind spots during lane changes, backing or other maneuvers frequently encountered on a crowded job site,” he says.

There are obstacle detection solutions that provide drivers with both audio and visual early warning systems to help them avoid dangerous situations and improve overall driver hazard awareness, he notes. For example, a driver hears the words “right side,” while an LED message simultaneously appears on the screen.

Many obstacle detection systems consist of multiple rugged, weather-resistant sensors strategically mounted around the vehicle and a single driver alert module inside the cab, usually dash-mounted. The systems work when users are driving fast or slow, backward or forward.

TST’s Eagle Eye Obstacle Detection System, for example, consists of up to seven sensors that can be mounted anywhere on the vehicle, cab or trailer, “wherever the driver needs an extra set of eyes,” says Knobel. The dash-mounted digital display provides an audible warning and a distance measurement to the driver of potentially hidden obstacles that are within 10 feet of the vehicle during key maneuvers such as backing up or changing lanes.

Most systems are easy to install aftermarket and the best are “plug-and-play” products, he says. They can be installed by a technician with little training in less than two hours, and less than one hour for many configurations. Users can be trained on how to perform the installation on their own, or the vendor can handle installation. The system requires no regular maintenance costs.

“Having this extra set of eyes plays a huge role in helping drivers to avoid damage, injury and accident costs, and significantly lowers overall operating costs, while boosting productivity, ” says Knobel.


Onboard video camera systems for object detection on commercial vehicles can also improve safety and reduce accidents, especially while backing. These systems allow drivers to see considerably more than is possible when using conventional mirror systems.

Camera systems come with an in-cab monitor and camera components which allow for multiple cameras to be configured with easy installation, and located and customized for each vehicle’s blind spot needs, says Brandon Stotsenburg, vice president of sales and marketing for Mobile Awareness, a company that designs, develops and markets transportation safety products utilizing leading-edge sensor technology. Camera options include heated cameras, night-vision options and flush-mount bullet options.

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