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Keeping An Electronic Eye On The Road


According to a new National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report, collision avoidance systems should soon be standard on both commercial and passenger vehicles. This is only a recommendation the NTSB has issued, not a requirement, but the report does call attention to how preventative measures can be taken to avoid serious accidents.

In the report, NTSB states that in the accidents involving tractor-trailers they studied, almost 80% of injuries could have been lessened or avoided entirely by collision avoidance systems.

What these systems do is recognize the presence of a hazard, such as a stopped or slow-moving vehicle, in the lane ahead and warn the driver. If necessary, the systems can initiate or assist in braking. Although these systems already exist, they are not standard. More simple systems that offer only collision warnings are available as well.

The reason collision-avoidance can make a difference is that the rear-drivers in these collisions typically do not notice the hazard in time to stop. Some are distracted, some were speeding, some were exhausted, and others were dealing with poor visibility or other interferences. The initiative is to provide some aid to the driver’s ability to focus so that accidents can be prevented.

Rear-end collisions injured 500,000 individuals and killed 1,700 people in 2012 in the United States. There were a total of 1.7 million rear-end crashes in the US in that year alone, according to the NTSB. That is a lot of inattentive drivers.

Logically, many of these drivers are not aware of that fact that they are not paying enough attention to the road. No one wants to get in an accident. But drivers are human, and humans can overestimate their skill as drivers and downplay the importance of unsafe habits such as speeding or texting while driving.

That is bad news for fleet managers who, until recently, had no way to know which of their employees was an accident waiting to happen.

By incorporating a safety analytics system into a fleet’s GPS tracking system, drivers and fleet managers can improve safety across their entire fleet.

These tracking systems offer a way around the problem by helping fleet managers identify which drivers engage in unsafe behaviors such as running through stop signs, speeding, or excessive acceleration and breaking. These events can be viewed from a GPS tracking systems’ dashboard that records and displays events. Fleet managers can use these recordings of unsafe driving incidents in training sessions with drivers so they can coach their team to perform better.   

Dangerous driving habits are not only problematic in and of themselves, but they also could indicate drivers who are not paying attention. A driver who usually performs well but occasionally seems to become erratic might also be indulging in cell phone use or some other distraction.

With GPS tracking data, fleet managers can offer supplementary training to those who really need it, to make sure that their employees really have their eye on the road—whether or not a collision-avoidance system has its electronic eye on the road as well.

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