The Ultimate Guide to Safety Technology When Shipping Freight

The Ultimate Guide to Safety Technology When Shipping Freight

The Ultimate Guide to Safety Technology When Shipping Freight

The Ultimate Guide to Safety Technology When Shipping Freight

In 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics determined there were more than 502,000 highway accidents involving large trucks.


Imagine the potential if safety technology could mitigate even a fraction of those accidents?

Could this result in an improved environment for drivers?  Could this help trucking companies reduce turnover? Could it even potentially mean lower shipping rates?

Why is Safety Technology Necessary When Shipping Freight?

Advances in technology are keeping us safer in cars, planes, on bicycles — even when walking. So of course it stands to reason that safety technology has made a considerable impact on shipping freight.

Ultimately as with any business, an investment in safety technology is preceded by immense need. Trucking accidents cost organizations billions of dollars per year. The potential savings to stem from safety technology are immense.

For companies choosing a provider to ship their freight using ground transportation, the implementation of safety technology can impact your peace of mind — and your bottom line — tremendously. It is a core area we recommend investigating when choosing a transportation partner, and one of the many reasons we educate organizations on the challenges and risks of choosing a transportation partner based solely on rates.

Here are Some of the Latest Safety Technology Innovations for Shipping Freight

In this post, we will examine the following safety technology innovations impacting the trucking industry:

1. ELDs
2. Forward-looking cameras
3. Driver scorecards

Following are some of the most impactful safety technology innovations impacting trucking companies now and in the near future:

1. ELDs

ELDs are one of the most buzzworthy safety technology topics in the trucking industry, and have been since the ELD Mandate, or electronic logging device rule, in December 2015.

The first compliance deadline passed just over a year ago on December 18, 2017, and has thrown the freight and trucking industry into a bit of a firestorm.

ELDs literally track a driver’s hours of service. In property-carrying devices (eg. trucks), the mandate dictates that a driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours per day after 10 hours off duty.

It’s a logical assumption that more hours on the road driving = increasingly tired drivers = more accidents. Stories of overtired drivers causing accidents make headlines and affect lives. According to an FMCSA study, accident rates are 11.7% lower in trucks with ELDs installed than in trucks that are not equipped. By their estimation, ELDs could prevent over 500 injuries and could potentially save 26 lives.

ELDs have the capability to monitor and record a significant amount of data regarding drivers and their trucks, including date, time, location information, engine hours, vehicle miles and identification information for the driver, vehicle and motor carrier. In many instances, this information is shared real-time with the transportation provider, so that they and the driver are on the same page. In addition, many ELD systems integrate map and route data, simplifying overall use of technology within trucks and for transportation providers.

ELDs can provide even more advanced data for trucking companies, including hard braking, speeding, idling and more.

ELD’s can also record engine performance data which can highlight areas that may require service earlier than the next scheduled maintenance interval. This can flag impending mechanical problems before they occur and keep a commercial motor vehicle from becoming a highway hazard.

In essence, they force compliance among truck drivers and transportation providers to keep drivers and the public safe, and to protect freight. Drivers can focus on their primary task — driving — instead of trying to remember the last time their paper log was maintained.

Many companies in the tech space are actively looking for ways to integrate this information into their platforms to provide more transparency for each and every transaction.

Following are some of the most prominent ELD companies (which are also companies that have received positive buzz among the Loadstar team). It’s important to consider, though, that the fleet size and specific technical needs of your carrier will certainly help in pinpointing the best provider:

1. Issac Instruments – Founded in 1999 and named after Sir Isaac Newton himself, Isaac was initially formed to service the automobile industry and pivoted into trucking during the recession in 2008.
2. Keep Truckin – KeepTruckin is a fleet managed platform used by over 40,000 fleets for compliance, fuel tax reporting, GPS tracking, video monitoring and more.
3. Omnitracs – Omnitracs works to improve the productivity, reliability, routing, safety and compliance of their transportation assets with software and SaaS fleet management solutions.
4. Big Road – The services provided by Big Road include ELD compliance SaaS options, as well as video telemetrics and a wide range of services to keep your fleet safe.
5. Geotab –  Geotab is a leader in telematics, providing open platform fleet management solutions to businesses of all sizes.

In addition to safety, ELD technology and administration has the potential to help your company ship freight more intelligently and efficiently, dramatically reducing your cost in the long run. If you’re looking beyond technology for an ELD administrator to help you maximize your investment, this company is worth reviewing (while working with clients, we have heard considerable positive feedback about them).

2. Forward-looking cameras

Rear-facing cameras have been installed in passenger vehicles (and have subsequently been increasing safety) for many years, and forward-facing cameras are becoming increasingly prevalent.

It was only a matter of time before cameras pointed at the road made their way to trucking and shipping.

While safety is always the overarching goal, transportation providers also primarily install forward-facing video in their trucking fleet to protect the companies themselves and their drivers in case of any collisions. Fraudulent insurance claims cost the industry millions of dollars per year, so any opportunity to mitigate that cost and liability is certainly welcome by Lawyers, insurance companies and of course fleet managers.

The addition of forward-facing cameras can, in many cases, clearly identify what occurred during collisions, preventing unnecessary court costs for fraudulent claims and the potential PR backlash that accompanies many accidents and lawsuits.

Interestingly, research shows that when a truck and passenger car collide, 70% of the time the passenger car is at fault. When passersby see an accident between a large truck and a small car; however, the perception tends to lean toward the “mean” truck and the “poor” car. The subsequent PR damage (for trucks that typically have their brand plastered along the side) can be costly.

Over the years, technological advancements have dramatically impacted forward-facing cameras. Higher storage capacity (with decreased size), high-definition video, better low light/night time image quality and refinements in image processing have made a major impact.

More advanced trucking video systems like Netradyne even include 360-degree, high-definition camera views to support typical video-based functions, including showing what actually happened during a collision. This system goes a step further; however, incorporating AI (artificial intelligence) to automate driver scorecarding and coaching.

Going beyond forward-facing cameras, advanced technology is placing cameras otherwise outside and inside trucks, using data analytics and artificial intelligence to identify when truck drivers are driving distracted (and notifying dispatchers) to prevent accidents before they occur.

Even live streaming has come to trucks and shipping providers, further enhancing the abilities and potential impact of this technology on safety when shipping freight.

Following are some of the most prominent video technology companies for the trucking industry (which are also companies that have received positive buzz among the Loadstar team):

1. SmartDrive – SmartDrive technology purports to transform fleet performance with best-in-class safety programs, an open analytics platform and transportation intelligence that improves safety and unlocks new opportunities to drive operational efficiency.
2. MiX Telematics – MiX Telematics solutions (including video technology and more) claim to boost efficiency by improving fuel consumption, driver behavior, utilization and more.
3. Lytx – According to Lytx, they are in the business of helping drivers be safe. Since 1998, Lytx has grown to help protect more than 3,000 clients, more than 850,000 drivers and countless communities through its safety programs and services.

3. Driver scorecards

Gamification is a pretty popular term nowadays. Gamification has impacted everything from the food we eat, to the steps we walk every day and just about every facet of our lives.

Yes, it’s even pervaded trucking and shipping.

But the notion of gamification — or as it’s known in shipping and trucking, scorecarding — goes back more than a decade, when transportation providers collected data to identify problems among truck drivers. That information subsequently made its way to meetings, where particular drivers would be called out for driving behavior that negatively impacted wear and tear on the fleet.

More directly related to cost, poor driving behaviors directly impact gas consumption. A particularly negligent driver with poor habits could affect gas consumption by up to 30%, making a massive difference.

Hence, the competition arose to improve your scorecard and avoid the embarrassment of being called out for your scorecard.

With the latest technological advancements, driver scorecards have become increasingly sophisticated, and are being used to impact more than costs.

Together with video, scorecarding is increasingly being determined by AI (artificial intelligence) to calculate and identify driver behaviors and recommend changes to improve driving behaviors and increase safety. Besides identifying behaviors and providing reporting, real-world technology is providing on-the-go coaching in response to scorecarding in order to prevent accidents and reduce unnecessary costs.

In other words, rather than using technology to react to negative events, it is being used to identify behaviors that could lead to negative events and prevent them.

Safety technology saves lives and impacts your bottom line.

Are you a fleet owner or safety manager that uses these or any other safety technology to improve efficiencies in your business to give your company a competitive advantage?

Contact us to learn more about safety technology, shipping freight and how choosing the right transportation partner can have a dramatic impact on your business.