The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently recommended that heavy-duty fleets deploy video system recorder technology to monitor their drivers. The systems can record video either continuously or as the result of a triggering event.
“These video systems serve as a proactive tool to identify and reduce risky driving behavior, such as speeding, distracted driving or drowsy driving,” NTSB said.
In its report, the NTSB referenced a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute on the effectiveness of DriveCam, an event-based onboard video system. The study examined 10,648 crashes involving heavy trucks and buses pulled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) General Estimates System from 2010 to 2012.
“The DriveCam event-based video system, combined with the driver behavior modification system, accounted for estimated eductions in fatal and injury crashes of 20% and 35%, respectively,” NTSB said.
NTSB said the onboard video systems can also provide valuable information for evaluating crashes.
During an April 29 House Transportation subcommittee hearing, Tom Kretsinger Jr., CEO of American Central Transport, said video event recorders are becoming more popular among fleets.
“Originally, these devices were perceived primarily as a post-crash exoneration tool,” Kretsinger said. “However, fleets quickly began to realize the benefits of being alerted to risky driving behaviors and the opportunity to provide subsequent driver coaching to prevent future crashes.”
Nearly every truck being manufactured today has a speed limiter built in, but it is up to individual fleets to determine whether or not they’re going to use it and the top speeds they’ll allow. Fleet operators who are taking advantage of the technology have said that speed limiters can increase fuel efficiency, improve safety and protect cargo within the trailer by minimizing the need for hard breaking events.
Currently, use of speed limiters is optional, but proposed federal rule being produced via a joint rulemaking by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that would require the installation and use of speed limiters is slated to be published in the Federal Register on Aug. 27. Once the rule is published, the public will be able to comment on it for 60 days.
The speed limiter rule moved closer to publication in May when the joint NHTSA and FMCSA proposal was forwarded to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for approval.
Once the public comment period closes, FMCSA and NHTSA would create a final rule, which would likely go into effect two years after it is published.
While many in the industry support the use of speed limiters, the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association has opposed the rule. On its website, the OOIDA Foundation said the devices would “decrease overall highway safety because the interaction between large trucks and passenger vehicles would increase.”
The group also said an OOIDA Foundation survey found that 82 percent of the drivers said they would rather work for a company that does not have speed limiters.
A final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) is slated to be published on Sept. 30, and the rule would begin being enforced two years later—on Sept. 30, 2017. Although the current use of ELDs is voluntary, a growing number of fleet owners are using the devices as they can save time and create convenience for fleet operators and drivers alike.
Users of ELDs said the devices can help with CSA compliance, eliminate paper records to reduce driver admin time, and provide more visibility into safe-driving behaviors. There is also evidence that compliant drivers gain miles per month with electronic logs because they manage their time better and dispatchers better manage load assignments. Omnitracks, a maker or ELDs, has issued a free whitepaper that details the benefits of the devices.