Ask anyone who’s been to a truck conference and they’ll confirm there’s an endless sea of technologies fleets could place in their trucks if they were so inclined. But, let us first acknowledge that adding anything into a truck isn’t a simple decision. Trucks are expensive assets and some fleets have a lot of them. Equipping trucks with a new technology across their entire fleet can take years, and often requires professional installation and ongoing maintenance. We’re looking at a lot of time and money here, Folks.
Having said that, there are a few technologies out there that, in our humble opinion, are worthy of that time and expense simply because of the tremendous upside. Dynamic routing or route optimization software, forward-looking camera systems, and driver scorecards systems are all things we’ve seen fleet owners really taking seriously.
Dynamic routing and route optimization systems can adjust the routes your drivers take to get from Point A to B in the most efficient manner. These systems factor in current traffic, road closures, weather, and more all in real time. This means you can reduce time stuck in rush hour traffic or traffic due to collisions. Total mileage can also be trimmed down and dispatchers may even be able to add in additional stops to increase route density and decrease total distance traveled to each subsequent delivery and pickup location.
Ultimately, this reduces time on the road and cuts down on fuel use, which are both major cost items for a fleet. Accessing improved trip-planning information to optimize truck routes every single day just makes good business sense. These software systems can help keep your drivers and equipment utilized at increased capacities while controlling your costs more effectively. Customers are also kept happier as your service levels are maximized, which then contributes to your company’s reputation and ability to land future business. It’s a win-win.
In-Cab Camera Systems
In-cab camera systems, also known as “dash cams,” have really improved in terms of picture and recording quality over the years.
We’ve seen huge improvements in image processing, usability in low light or nighttime views, and high-definition image capture while the actual cameras themselves have gotten smaller, lighter, sleeker, and relatively cheaper than their predecessors.
It’s also not hard to demonstrate to a fleet the importance of dash cams in defending both the fleet and the driver in case of collisions and potential false insurance claims. Studies from the FMCSA have shown that when heavy trucks and passenger cars collide, it’s the passenger car driver’s fault a majority of the time -- about 70% or higher, in fact. But, when onlookers and the general public see such a crash, they tend to assume it was the truck’s fault.
To avoid being taken to court for false claims and to avoid the legal fees associated with such a defense, installing forward-facing cameras on every truck is a no-brainer.
Driver ScorecardsTelematics information can help managers see where trucks are having problems in their operation. It can also help shed light on bad driving behaviors such as hard braking, acceleration, running red lights, or coming too close to pedestrians. Such data could indicate reckless driving, which can burn more fuel, lead to more frequent accidents or collisions, and cause greater wear and tear on the truck, thus resulting in increased maintenance costs.
Fleets can use telematics data to assist in creating driver scorecards that not only help address poor driving behavior, but can perhaps offer additional training opportunities to help drivers improve their road skills. It can also be use to score for positive driving behaviors and the development of a reward or compensation system for consistently great scorecards.