Are Safety Technologies Giving Drivers the Wrong Idea?

Posted by Nick Yates
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Each day safety technologies enter the innovative race to bring on-and off-road industries the safety solutions of the future. The public is invested in safety and companies flourish when they follow best safety practices. People want to know what accounts for good safety technology and how it’s implemented to promote efficiency. Despite this strong interest in safety technology, drivers are hesitant to adopt solutions that monitor their actions or take control of operations at any level.

For the most part, big rig and commercial truck operators are skilled and patient drivers. However, in addition to thetruck driver dangers inherent in the size and weight of fleets used in commercial transportation and shipping, several in-built characteristics of the business can contribute to incident rates. These include:

  • Inadequate training as to driving technique, safety concerns, and defensive driving.
  • Systems of compensation that encourage operators to work faster, longer consecutive hours than would generally be advisable.
  • Unrealistic schedules and expectations of companies, urging drivers to hurry despite the safety risks involved.

Driver Hesitation

Today, driver hesitation is rooted in their understanding of the many safety technologies available. Drivers are still confused about autonomous solutions and the limitations of current systems. Some are under the impression that ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) and autonomous technologies are safety features designed to protect them from other driver's mistakes, and not their own. While other operators believe safety technologies are taking control of their equipment away from them.

forward collision systemTo operators, there are obvious benefits and situational negatives to ADAS. ADAS and lower level autonomous vehicles are designed to take over if drivers do not make the correct evasive maneuvers. A conventional ADAS system can detect objects, alert the driver of hazardous road conditions, and in some cases move, slow down, or even stop vehicles. For instance, if incorrect or unsafe lane departure is initiated, the system would correct the mistake and steer the machine back on track. Automatically applying brakes is another instance where ADAS' avoidance maneuvers can override an operator.

Although the ADAS features which take over operation of the vehicle to avoid accidents are still quite controversial, its adaptive speed control, night vision and blind spot monitoring capabilities are more widely accepted. With this form of assistance, the operator feels safer, for they provide welcome convenience and safety.

While ADAS continues to develop, fewer incidents are occurring as on-road operations, and work environments see smaller margins of error. As adoption and associated training continue to progress, increased reassurance for the operator has continued to stand out as a high priority for those in the safety technology industry.

In-Cab Recording: A Textbook Example of Driver Hesitation

Often online, you will see compilations of recorded crashes or viral videos of interactions between drivers. In some in-cab-recordinginstances, you can even see the driver reacting to the incident through an in-cab recording system. In-cab recording systems are known for collecting video footage from single or multiple perspectives, capturing the driver's direct field of view, the driver’s themselves, their actions and reactions, and even visual recordings of the surrounding area.

The idea of in-cab recording technology collecting visuals of the road and other vehicles around the driver, coupled with speed, time, and other telematics is not what deters drivers from the safety solution. It’s the fact that they are being recorded.

"I don't even mind the idea that sudden or extreme motions report to my carrier. But they don't need to watch my every move and facial twitch to know what's going on,” one operator commented..

Big Brother or Liability Safeguard?

In a very litigious society, it is crucial fleets are given the facility to combat wrongful liability claims and save an incredible amount of resources, time, and money in legal fees – because seldom is only one party blamed.

Although large commercial vehicles are only responsible for 3 percent of injury-causing automotive incidents, trucking accidents typically cause much more substantial harm than ordinary traffic incidents due to the large size and heavy weight of most trucks. Primarily it is the driver of passenger vehicles who are to blame for traffic incidents with large commercial trucks and big rigs. Among these incidents, a sizable chunk’s due to abrupt lane changes, unsafe passing, turning, insufficient acceleration when merging, and the driver of the passenger vehicle not understanding the limitations of heavy-duty vehicle acceleration, braking, and visibility capabilities.

By implementing in-cab recording systems, fleets can now document incidents caused by unsafe passenger vehicle drivers. With a real-time recreation of the event, not-at-fault operators and fleet owners can avoid false claims and lengthy liability lawsuits with ease. In-cab recording technologies serve as a learning tool, improving fleets' defensive driver training with real-world scenarios; protecting fleet owners and operators against future incidents and from false liability claims.

Combating Hesitation with Leadership - Conflict Management

When dealing with safety, conflict is inevitable in groups and organizations, and it presents both a challenge and a genuine opportunity for every leader. When handling the often daily occurrence of conflict, the question every good leader asks is: “How can we manage conflict and produce positive change?”

By separating people from the issue, we allow ourselves to identify others' individuality amidst the conflict. People in conflict need to see themselves as working side by side, tackling the problem, not one another. In separating the people from the issue, and focusing on interests, not positions, we can nurture and reinforce our relationships rather than destroying them.

After identifying the underlying interests of their position, it is useful to look at the fundamental concerns which motivate people: the need for security, belonging, recognition, control, and economic well-being.

In many industry's today, drivers are hesitant to adopt safety technologies out of concern for their need for security, control, and economic well-being. It is easy to understand these concerns; autonomous solutions have been widely accepted as the futures driverless-solutions. In driver hesitation scenarios, it is common for drivers to see adopting safety technologies as a challenge of their abilities. This “tough guy” mentality within the industries is persistent, as many drivers have been in the industry for many years. They believe that they don’t need the help of safety technology, and adoption would be a waste of money. 

However, when implemented, drivers seem to warm to the idea of safety technology. According to Heavy Duty Trucking’s June survey on the Future of Safety Technology, “More than 50 percent of the fleets we surveyed said their drivers either seemed happy that they were taking steps to protect their safety or had their concerns eased by the inclusion of a training program… With the invention of advanced driver assistance systems, fleets have a little helping hand in terms of keeping their trucks, their drivers, and the general public even [safer] on the road.”

When introducing safety technology to hesitant operators, it is recommended you appeal ADAS as vehicle control enhancements – emphasizing that by definition, they are advanced driver-assistance systems, not autonomous solutions in full control. Through these vehicle control enhancements, current ADAS systems perform functions ranging from warning the operator of a potential problem, to steering, throttle, and brake control. As of right now, ADAS is still technically in developing stages, so hesitant drivers can rest easy – widespread autonomous solutions remain in the distant future.


Topics: Advanced Driver Assistance System, Safety Culture, Leadership

Who We Are

PRECO Electronics is a global technology provider that improves safety for operators, worksites, and the public. The effectiveness of our object detection radar systems is unmatched in heavy duty vehicle industries.

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