Mega Carrier Safety Execs Agree on “No-Brainer” Way to Reduce Big Rig Crashes
Washington D.C. – Trucking company executives who spoke during the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Truck Safety Summit this week seemingly found unanimous agreement on the immediate solution to reduce crashes involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV).
The FMCSA held its Safety Summit on Wednesday, August 5, and it featured more than two dozen invited panelists and speakers from a cross-section of the trucking industry.
Concerned about alarming data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealing trucker crash deaths have risen to a 31-year high, the Agency sought to bring industry experts together to discuss solutions to safety challenges.
Numerous panels included a who’s who of mega carrier safety executives with decades of management and driver training experience.
When the dust had settled on the nearly eight hours of discussion, the most agreed upon immediate measure carriers could and should take to reduce crashes was to adopt advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
ADAS includes technologies such as lane departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking (AEB), and both forward-facing and in-cab-facing camera monitoring systems.
Jamie Maus, vice president of safety and compliance for Werner, indicated AEB has made a dramatic difference reducing both the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes.
“What once was a fatal accident is now an injury accident,” she said. “An injury accident is now a property damage accident, and property damage accidents have become nonexistent.”
Thomas DiSalvi, vice president of safety, driver training and compliance for Schneider National, said the Green Bay, WI-based fleet began spec’ing ADAS on new tractor orders eight years ago.
Since that time, DiSalvi claimed the carrier has seen a 60 percent reduction in rear-end crashes.
“If it’s not eliminating the crash, it is mitigating the impact of it,” DiSalvi commented.
Dean Newell, vice president of safety and training for Maverick Transportation said his experience with ADAS has been similar.
Maverick first began deploying ADAS technologies in 2004 and has continued to integrate more features such as AEB.
Newell indicated the North Little Rock, AR-based carrier has only had six rear-end crashes in the prior 31 months and zero so far in 2020.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” he said. “In my mind, it works. You don’t know what you’ve prevented, but once you look at the data, it becomes clear.”
Perhaps the strongest testimonial for deploying ADAS was made by Greer Woodruff, senior vice president of safety, security and driver personnel transport for J.B. Hunt.
Woodruff said the trucking giant has experienced a 50 percent reduction in rear-end crashes since adopting ADAS into its fleet.
The Lowell, AR-based company now has integrated AEB into 98 percent of its tractors, he said.
Plus, he expressed that the systems are continuing to improve.
“I’ve seen over the last ten years how these systems have continuously improved, and I think we are just going to continue to see improvements in them,” he commented.
In addition to the safety benefits, Woodruff claimed both equipment downtime and driver turnover has decreased leading to an even greater return on investment (ROI).
“There is an immediate ROI for most of these right now,” he stated.
Further, Greer was emphatic that even some of Hunt’s long-time drivers who were initially skeptical of the technology have since become converts after experiencing the benefits.
“That’s what I’m talking about with some of our very experienced million-mile drivers. They might have not thought they needed them until they needed them, and they were thankful when they had it,” he said.
It Should Also Be Noted…
J.B. Hunt, Maverick, and Schneider are each member companies of the Trucking Alliance.
The progressive trucking safety group maintains trucking fleets have an “ethical responsibility” to install these technologies.