Fleet Management

Are We Adopting Advanced Safety Systems Quickly Enough?

"This is not easy, in the short term this might not look like the right thing to do, but there are lives at stake."

November 2017, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Deborah Lockridge, Editor-in-Chief - Also by this author

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Forward collision warning is becoming more common, but other ADAS technologies lag behind.
Forward collision warning is becoming more common, but other ADAS technologies lag behind.

Advanced driver assistance systems present an opportunity to save thousands of lives and drive economic expansion over the next decade – but we need to move faster, contended Brian Collie, partner and managing director of Boston Consulting Group, in a recent speech.

“We can do better, and we have to do better,” said Collie, speaking to a room full of trucking supplier representatives at the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association’s Breakfast & Briefing during the North American Commercial Vehicle show in Atlanta this fall.

Boston Consulting Group helps its clients prepare for transformation to help stay at the top of their markets, and in a 2015 study it found that advanced driver assistance systems, such as forward collision warning/mitigation, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and others, could avert nearly 30% of crashes. The 2015 study, commissioned by HDMA’s parent organization, focused on the sluggish uptake by consumers buying cars, but Collie’s remarks at NACV focused on commercial users.

Each year, he said, large-truck accidents result in more than 4,000 fatalities, $2.4 billion in property damage, and more than $50 billion in societal harm — and 90% of those are caused by human error. Since 2009, he said, large truck crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities have risen significantly.

“It’s going to get far worse before it gets better,” he said, as distracted driving continues to increase.

“We do have the answer.” While progress has been made in the last few years seeing adoption of forward collision warning and mitigation systems, he said, in other areas, such as lane keeping systems or drowsiness monitoring, “adoption is not there,” especially among smaller fleets.

And a lot of that comes down to the question of payback, or return on investment. While large fleets tend to take a larger view at that, incorporating factors such as the cost of downtime, smaller fleets, he said, may look at competing by offering lower cost services, made possible by buying less expensive equipment on the secondary market and not making investments in advanced safety systems, thinking “it won’t happen to me.”

“What they often don’t realize is when it does happen, the savings all goes out the window,” Collie said. “Some of these accidents put these small fleets out of business.”

Many fleets struggle to justify the investment and payback in advanced safety tech.
Many fleets struggle to justify the investment and payback in advanced safety tech.

Beyond antilock braking systems and electronic stability control, both of which are benefiting from government regulations, forward collision warning is the most widely adopted ADAS, Collie said, followed by related adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. A number of OEMs, he pointed out, have recently announced collision mitigation systems as standard on some vehicles. Schneider, he noted, reported it eliminated 70% of rear end collisions using the technology, and reduce the severity of such incidents by 95%. “When do we find a technology which suggests a significant value proposition” such as this, he said, it is more widely adopted.

However, other systems, such as lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, are not catching on as quickly he said, and aren’t likely to any time soon.

When these technologies advance to allow for more automated commercial vehicle operation, he said, the “hard cash benefits of ADAS technologies really come to life,” Collie said, noting he’s “a big believer in Level 4, Level 5, autonomy,” saying it “will happen a lot faster than many of us would like to believe.”

Adoption of ADAS for more autonomous operations, he said, “allows the business case to dramatically improve,” driving significant utilization improvements on trucks, addressing the drivers shortage, and reducing crashes. “We expect a roughly 90% reduction in accidents with fully autonomous technology,” he said. Of course, he said, there are obstacles, including the need for a national regulatory framework, and “how can I hire drivers at the same time I’m telling them it won’t be a career anymore?”

Nevertheless, Collie contended, “The opportunity is to big to ignore. We project over the next 13 years, this industry can save more than 10,000 lives” if the full suite of current ADAS technology were to be made standard and extend all the way from Class 3 through Class 8 commercial vehicles.

To get there, he said, there are three areas that need to be addressed:

1. Educating truck owners about ADAS. “When a lot of fleets think about ADAS, they feel it's overly complex or it means a need to remove the driver right now.” He encouraged suppliers to educate customers about the tangible benefits that can come, including significant fuel economy gains and less downtime.

2. Make sure education is followed by true incentives. “We need government to step up to offer tax incentives,” he said, noting that already insurance companies starting to offer discounts for those using these technologies. The government also could make adoption of such technologies part of its safety ratings of carriers. “And ultimately preferential pricing for logistics providers able to offer those trucks.”

3. “Frankly given where we are, this is the one case – and believe me I love the free market economy – where regulation is sorely needed.”

In the meantime, he encouraged the supplier audience to publicly share field performance results to help make the technology better. “We're no longer just a regional industry. We're now increasingly global – so let's work with our European colleagues and drive some common standards.”

He likened the situation to “an opportunity for our industry’s moon shot. This is not easy, in the short term this might not look like the right thing to do, but there are lives at stake. We can do better and we certainly have to.”


  1. 1. Paul [ November 07, 2017 @ 09:14AM ]

    Blah blah blah! Everyone of these devices drives up the cost of new equipment...I barely know any owner operators that can afford new equipment as it is. Why don’t they just build a damn robot to drive the trucks! And as usual, the government, in the name of safety, is going to jam a bunch more crap and regulation down our throats. You want the truth? The truth is The mega carriers have bought the ATA and most other trucking associations and they are complicate in helping to drive the small trucking companies and the owner operators out of business. And safety? Tell me about how safe Swift is with their ELDs and driver cameras and all that b.s.....hell, they just killed 2 people and injured 4 others in an accident caused by, I think, an in experienced driver, not 5 miles from my home. You want safety? Get better drivers....they need more than 2 weeks in a driving school to be safe.....start from scratch with the hours of service rules....let the driver work his 11 hours however he wants in the 24 hour day, so he can nap or wait out traffic congestion....throw away the ELD because we’re going to lose a lot of good drivers when it takes effect....and give us some relief on taxes...fuel taxes, corporate taxes, federal Hwy taxes, and on and on. What I’m trying to say is, if you want less accidents, you need better drivers, and more truck equipment and more regulations do just the opposite!!

  2. 2. Maurice Tetreault [ November 07, 2017 @ 12:31PM ]

    I will agree that these devices/applications do drive up the cost of a new truck, I am reminded of a statement made by Gary Putnam years ago "At what price safety". Collision avoidance, Side Detection and Drive Cam will make a "Good" driver a "Better" driver with the right coaching. I also agree that the quality of drivers entering the industry leave something to be desired from when I entered the industry in 1976.

  3. 3. Brian [ November 07, 2017 @ 01:53PM ]

    Technology, Safety, Technology, Safety, Technology, Safety, blah blah blah. All these driver aids are just aids. They still have to be able to do the job without the aids. Make them a good driver first, and then make them a better driver with aids.

    The simple truth is that all the Mega-Carriers, after having bought the ATA (thanks Max Fuller US Xpress), there has not been a significant increase of any measure of safety in over 20 years. When your goal is to pump the incoming NEW drivers thru the puppy mill, err, sorry, truck driving school, your goal and ambition of safety goes right out the window. Teaching these new drivers the correct attitude of the road, attention to detail, and how to drive the truck and not just be a steering wheel holder... These are the crucial elements to teaching a new driver how to be a safe driver..

    And you owner ops and old school drivers, your not getting away either. While I agree there is no incentive for you to teach a new driver on how to drive. But if your not going to teach them how to do it, then you leave it to the puppy mills.

    Pick your poison here guys. You bitch and whine about how these new drivers cant do the job, but all I see you doing is criticizing them, and then bitching them out on the CB radio (assuming they have one). Well, if your going to preach it, get in the passenger seat and do it too.

    And yes, I am a trainer, and I personally take it to heart the job of what I am training them to do. You never know when one of them might be in my state, driving the same road my wife and kids might be on. There have been a few times I told the students to pull it over, you just aint cut out to do it.

    And no, you cant train anyone to be a truck driver. There is a certain mentality, and drive/ambition to do the job, and do it right. Most people these days just cant cut the mustard.

    Get it right when it doesn't count, and you will get it right when it does.

  4. 4. Justin [ November 11, 2017 @ 05:33AM ]

    Inventing and adopting new technologies for the sake of a new safety system just for the "new tech" or "cool" factor is not the answer to increased highway safety.
    All it is ,is a new distraction to the driver. I have driven commercial vehicles with a plethora of "safety systems" and found the distraction factor to be true. They also make drivers over confident in relying only on the tech to save their butt in a situation they should not have been in .
    More disturbing is the fact that these life saving trinkets are designed by the same people who gave us daytime running lights that do not turn on the tailights.Now there are vehicles driving around after dark making a black hole.Rear approaching drivers cannot see the vehicle ahead until it is possibly too late to avoid contact.
    Another example are the headlights that turn on automatically.Except for times of reduced visability,such as fog,rain,snowfall,twilight.
    The only true answer to highway safety is to only license people who actually have the common sense and concept of operating a large machine.Auto drivers and big truck drivers alike. Require ongoing education and refresher courses for safe vehicle operation And have ALL drivers follow the same laws and regs.Not have seperate rules/regs. for drivers of different vehicles.
    What vehicle will kill people,a passenger car or a big rig??Doesn"t matter. Dead is dead.


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