Safety Tips and Future Safety Items

The future of truck safety is bright, according to one industry expert. Tim Henerbry, executive vice president and general manager of PACCAR Leasing Company (PacLease), Bellevue, Wash., says, “Trucks coming off the assembly line today are a far cry from vehicles produced 10 years ago; they are significantly safer, for both the operator and for the motoring public.”

Safe fleet operations, Henerbry says, require a four-tiered approach that includes quality equipment, thorough maintenance, driver training and safety-enhancing components, and all of these are interdependent.

As aftermarket enhancements to your existing fleet, or for your next new truck delivery, Henerbry suggests investigating the following components:

  • Automated transmissions: Reducing shifting allows the driver to concentrate on traffic, and it helps reduce fatigue.

  • Enhanced ergonomics: Truck makers are improving the ease of reaching and using controls, and seats are becoming a focus for reducing driver fatigue.

  • Traction control: For operating in mountainous, winter conditions, traction control is a low-cost, high-payback option that minimizes tire spinning on ice and snow, improving both safety and performance.

  • Cameras and monitors: Miniature cameras embedded in the passenger-side mirror provide rear-viewing images, eliminating blind spots, while a sleeper-mounted passenger-side camera provides a curb view.

  • Enhanced visibility: The advent of the aerodynamic truck offer drivers a better view of the road ahead. Also, daylite doors enhance side visibility and help to eliminate blind spots. Other truck models also feature corner, or “peeper,” windows that further minimize blind spots.

    Henerbry believes that safety innovations will continue to drive truck design. Here are some items that may come into widespread use in the near future:

  • GPS: In five years, many trucks will have global positioning satellite systems (GPS) that track vehicle speed, heading and location of not only the truck but also the vehicles around it. For example, if traffic 1 mile ahead suddenly slows to a crawl, the system will alert the driver. The system also would point out a stalled car around a blind corner, and make driving in fog much safer. And because the system knows your destination and can evaluate upcoming traffic, a GPS system can recommend alternative routes. This technology exists today, and most experts anticipate it to be an inexpensive item in the future.

  • Improved braking: Brake controls will monitor the wear, temperature and vibration of brakes, significantly reducing the possibility of brake failure.

  • Front brake lights: PACCAR is researching the effectiveness of front brake lights. Pending potential future legislation, these lights may improve safety on the highways by flashing rapidly for a few seconds, alerting motorists that they have cut in too close or within the truck's safe stopping zone.

  • More lighting advancements: Further enhancing safety, lights on the back of vehicles would display green when the truck driver has a foot on the accelerator, yellow when the truck is coasting and red as it brakes. During panic stops, brake lights and emergency flashers appear.

  • Driver alertness monitoring: Drowsiness monitors will track driver performance, generating an alertness rating.

  • Tire pressure: Tire inflation monitoring systems alert drivers to tire problems before they become dangerous. Drivers with rear tandems, for example, frequently are not aware of inside tire failure until tread starts to come off.