5 Tips for Utilizing New Vehicle and Driver Safety Technology

Phillip Little, Blank-It, CEO

As technology keeps the industry moving forward, trucking companies need to find a way to use new technology without creating new problems.

1. Avoid distractions

In an increasingly connected world, the pressure is on to have Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) in front of the drivers. To ensure a safer workplace there must be a way to minimize the temptation for drivers to be distracted by the MDT.

2. Installation is key

In-vehicle MDT’s must be installed safely, avoid creating blind spots and mounted securely out of the crash zone.

3. Customize the system

Deploy adaptable and customizable hardware and software solutions which are easy to update and maintain.

4. Create a feedback loop

Engaging with your provider is valuable. They are consistently improving technologies and creating two-way feedback benefits all stakeholders. Ask for feedback from the end-user whether it be staff or yourself and impart this information.

5. Avoid interference

Ensure that, when a computer is used away from the vehicle, there is no interference with the operation of the computer outside of the vehicle dock.

Across the United States and the globe, communities are figuring out how to plan for growth when mobility options are evolving at a pace not seen since automobiles outpaced horses. Transportation choices and the ways options connect will determine a lot about the places we live and work — and how much we like living there. 

Without innovative thinking about how to mix and connect modes, cities will grind towards gridlock. By 2050, according to Arthur D. Little, urban drivers will be stuck in traffic jams for 106 hours a year — nearly two weeks. Driverless cars alone will not solve the congestion problem. As The Economist noted, "The better integrated a city’s transport system, the less demand there will be for driverless cars, and the easier those cars will be to combine with the other options."

Nordic solutions

Helsinki, Finland, is home advanced efforts to coordinate travel options, via a mobile app called Whim. The app shows the best combination of options, from an on-demand bus to a one-way car share or a dockless bike share, and coordinates payments across modes. Known as a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) or Mobility on Demand, these efforts leverage multiple mobility options and transit networks with real-time data and cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). The goal is a traveler-centric system that's safe and efficient.

In the United States, there are many efforts afoot to create more efficient movement of people and goods, especially given that the U.S. population is expected to increase by 70 million people by 2040 (about 22 percent) and freight will increase by 45 percent. The pace of change is already visible in the shift to online retailing and streams of delivery trucks bringing packages to the door. 

Fitting solutions into cities   

Audrey Wennink, transportation policy director at Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit formed by business leaders 85 years ago, says the trick is not to think of any one new mode — whether Autonomous Vehicles or Lyft or Uber — as a solution. The trick is to ask how they fit into the cities we want to see.

Pittsburgh, known for its early relationship with Uber and the testing of self-driving cars, is planning a dedicated AV corridor to connect an underserved neighborhood with employment centers. The shuttles also will connect with higher capacity transit service. Karina Ricks, director of the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure says that by enabling “a transit-oriented lifestyle,” the city can “grow back the base that we once had without the level of traffic impact that we’ve seen so far.”

Similar thinking is cropping up in suburban locations. The Village of Oak Brook in Illinois recently sought bids to from private companies to provide on-demand, app-based service from the nearest Metra train stations to an employment cluster, about five miles away, with 2,000 employers and 60,000 employees.

The quest for more efficient movement of freight and packages also is sparking changes in real estate and delivery systems. According to the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, an average city resident generates 0.1 deliveries per day — that’s around 270,000 deliveries daily in Chicago. To speed these up, online retailers have turned to urban infill to get closer to customers. This includes repurposing under-used, underground parking garages.

To solve the problem of congestion from deliveries (delivery trucks account for 17 percent of congestion costs, according to a report from the WEF and Deloitte), Pittsburgh is working with UPS to test local package delivery by e-bikes.

The new distribution equation also impacts communities far from the urban core. Will County, Illinois, southeast of Chicago, has transformed into the largest inland port in North America, with railroads, navigable waterways and a mature interstate and arterial highway system. With 138 percent employment growth since 2005, the county recently formed an innovative public-private partnership to ensure livability comes with growth.