As with any type of technology, commercial vehicle safety systems evolve. And according to Matt Camden, senior research associate at the Center for Truck and Bus Safety, Behavioral Analysis and Applications Group, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, this evolution over the past few years has been tremendous.

“The underlying hardware and software have become more precise and accurate,” says Camden, who will be speaking at the Fleet Safety Conference on October 30, 2018, just outside of Las Vegas, as well as hosting a webinar, “Exploring Advanced Safety Technologies: Functionality, Effectiveness, and ROI,” on September 13, 2018, 11:00 AM PT/2:00 PM ET.

Matt Camden, senior research associate at the Center for Truck and Bus Safety, Behavioral Analysis and Applications Group, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. -

Matt Camden, senior research associate at the Center for Truck and Bus Safety, Behavioral Analysis and Applications Group, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

One example are the previous generations of automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, which saw high rates of false alerts and lower braking performance. The latest generation of AEB systems has reduced the rate of false alerts and has improved braking performance. Camden and his team are about to begin a new study to evaluate the latest generation of AEB.

“All these systems are beginning to be integrated together. You can now purchase a collision mitigation system that includes both AEB and lane departure warning (LDW). Data generated by these systems can also be integrated with driver monitoring systems. For example, AEB and LDW alerts can trigger the video-based monitoring systems to save events for driver coaching.”

When it comes to the most popular of these systems, there are two systems that seem to be gaining a lot of tractor – AEB and driver monitoring. In past several years, more and more fleets are starting to order AEB on all their new Class 8 trucks. Additionally, many fleets now use video-based monitoring systems, says Camden. And in the next five to 10 years, there will be more improvements with the technologies, such as AEB and LDW.

“I expect to see these technologies improve to further reduce false alerts,” says Camden. “We may also see advancements in heavy vehicle platooning technologies which include adaptive cruise control, dedicated short range communication devices, and possibly lane centering technologies.”

But, what many fleets are asking is how well these systems improve vehicle safety. Although additional data on the current generation of these technologies is needed, most research shows that these technologies have great potential to prevent crashes and their resulting injuries and fatalities, according to Camden.

“Currently, the most common safety technologies we see being used on Class 8 trucks include AEB, lane departure warning, driver monitoring systems using telematics and video data,” adds Camden.

But before fleets can see improvements, they need to ensure that most important part of the equation – the driver – is onboard with the new technologies. Informing and training drivers on the safety technologies in their truck is critical. Fleets must train drivers on how these systems operate, how they will improve safety, and what to do when they are activated.

“For example, drivers need to be trained on what to expect when their experience an automatic emergency braking event,” says Camden.

As with any new technology, cost is a main factor when considering the adoption of safety-related systems. Additionally, smaller fleets may have a harder time with the upfront costs.

“However, our research shows that each of these three technologies can have a positive return-on-investment with a fairly quick payback period. By reducing the number of crashes, and their associated costs, fleets are likely going to end up saving money in the long term by adopting these technologies,” explains Camden.

To learn more about these new technologies and understand the return on investment, attend Camden’s session, “Calculating the Return on Investment of Heavy Vehicle Safety Technologies,” at the Fleet Safety Conference on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. For more information, visit www.fleetsafetyconference.com.

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