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Technology in Trucks: A Necessity or Simply Distracting?

November 21, 2013

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

There is an abundance of technology on the market today for fleets – from GPS and telematics for routing, to blind spot monitoring and back-up cameras for safety, to just about everything in between.

Which of the many new, technological advances are necessary to help truck fleets stay safer on the road, and what are unnecessary distractions?

GPS & Telematics

It’s become an unattested truth that better routing through GPS and telematics solutions can save on fuel expenses, helps keep drivers safer through location-based assistance programs and more. New and improved truck-specific GPS and routing software has also come onto the market, further enhancing a driver’s ability to ensure they are staying on the appropriate roads and not endangering themselves or others by using an unsafe route for a specific truck size.

However, in-vehicle GPS systems showing a moving map can be considered an in-vehicle distraction. Using voice-only directions is a safer, less distraction-prone option. Drivers should be urged to pay attention the road, and if possible to turn off the map's display when not needed. 

Safety Systems

There is no question or argument that modern safety technology is saving thousands of lives and making today's vehicles some of the safest on the road. From modern air bag technology to collision alert sensors and warning systems, technology is working hard to save lives.

Some fleet managers, however, argue that drivers are becoming too dependent on this technology and are not paying close of attention to possible hazards like they used to. Another concern I've heard voiced is that drivers may get used to certain safety technology in one vehicle, and may not be as diligent in avoiding certain road hazards when getting into another vehicle that lacks such technology.

At an event a few years back, when blind spot monitoring was being introduced, one long-time journalist commented, “But we have always had ‘blind spot monitoring.’ It’s called adjusting your rear-view mirrors correctly and paying attention to your surroundings.”

While many safety systems are necessary, including new air bag systems, is there a point where drivers get so dependent on the technology that they stop using the most valuable technology at hand – their own eyes, ears, and brain?

Hands-Free Systems

Hands-free systems are gaining in popularity as more and more states band texting while driving, or talking on cell phones completely. But, is a hands-free system as “distraction free” as everyone may believe? Some systems still require interaction with an in-dash system, or buttons on a steering wheel. I believe fleets that are enforcing strict no cell-phone use policies are going to reap the future benefits of a safer fleet.

In the end, fleet managers may be guilty of helping drivers become too dependent on technology. Is modern in-vehicle technology both a blessing, and a curse? What do you think is a necessity, or simply just a distraction?

Let me know where you stand.

Lauren Fletcher

[email protected]

Comments

  1. 1. hank [ February 25, 2014 @ 04:07PM ]

    I believe you covered it quite well !

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Author Bio

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Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor

Lauren Fletcher has been covering the fleet industry since 2006 and is currently the Executive Editor of Work Truck Magazine. Over the past 10 years, Fletcher has written and edited for Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet, Green Fleet, Vehicle Remarketing, and Business Driver magazines. A hot rod enthusiast from a young age, Fletcher has a fascination with cars and a love of trucks, from the classics to the new releases.

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