Posted on August 07, 2018
Many within the transportation industry scoffed at the notion of autonomous vehicles, and they weren’t alone. The idea of self-driving vehicles seemed like science fiction at best and dangerous at worst, yet the technology is here and already in use. Budweiser shipped over 50,000 cans of beer in a self-driving truck, and Uber, Waymo, Tesla and Embark are all running live pilots with autonomous trucks. While the technology isn’t 100% ready for the public at large, it’s rapidly becoming a reality. High tech tools and futuristic technology are dominating recent transportation publication headlines with solutions like these, which are all available today:
Telematics and GPS Fleet Tracking Systems
Simply said, telematics encompasses the software and devices that power the electronic features found in all vehicles including trucks. GPS is one of the key applications in telematics, and includes:
- Navigation, fuel monitoring and route planning
- Driver behavior applications including braking, fast acceleration and speeding
- Complex route planning and arrival/departure alerts
- Automated tracking and analytics productivity reports
- Trailer tracking and historical routing
- Idle and start/stop driving reports
ELDs and Trucking Software Applications
ELDs provide the wireless tools and technology to ensure that truckers and fleets maintain compliance with the FMCSA ELD mandate.
Self-driving Trucks and Platooning
As mentioned previously, self-driving truck testing is well underway. Platooning is also being tested by manufacturers including Daimler. Platooning extends self-driving technology by wirelessly tethering trucks together, allowing them to operate in a tighter highway formation (convoy) than would be possible with human drivers at the wheel.
Tesla is the big name when it comes to electric vehicles, and Tesla Semi, the automaker’s electric truck division has been accumulating many reservations over the last few months. Tesla is expected to produce all electric trucks in 2019. But they aren’t alone, as many major manufacturers are actively working on completely electric trucks. Volvo has announced two new fully-electric trucks designed to take the place of urban delivery and refuse collection vehicles. Both will be available in the European market in 2019.
What to Expect in the Coming Years
As if the list above insufficiently represents the dramatic changes happening in the trucking industry, there are some seemingly imminent and impressive technologies expected to impact truckers and fleets in the near future. These include:
Heads up displays (HUDs) are nothing new for vehicles, but augmented reality is about to take them to the next level. BMW is working on a HUD that can superimpose real-life objects from the road onto a truck’s HUD to allow drivers to navigate obstacles with greater ease.
Trucks require ongoing maintenance and recalibration to perform at their optimum level. However, new technology will allow software to make these calibrations without ever pulling into a repair shop.
Trucking companies need to prepare for these dramatic changes, and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. Contact us to learn how we can help protect you today and in the future.
Posted on June 20, 2016
Yet another fatal and tragic trucking incident has brought into focus the staggering settlement costs growing increasingly common in industry litigation. Five nursing students from Georgia Southern University died in a recent tractor-trailer incident that has the country and the industry asking a lot of questions, not least of which is how settlement costs could total more than $70 million.
The details of the case are as follows: The driver (John Wayne Johnson) has admitted fault in the accident. Though he has a record of falling asleep at the wheel, he insists he was awake at the time of the crash, and that systems in place to prevent these incidents were not functioning properly (including proximity warning sounds). Johnson and his employer, Total Transportation of Mississippi, have been indicted on numerous counts.
Johnson will be facing five counts of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and serious injury by vehicle, and one count each of reckless driving, failure to exercise due care, and following too closely. These are substantial charges that could keep Johnson behind bars for many years.
Total Transportation is indicted separately, as it is a corporate entity. The charges include one count of serious injury by vehicle in the first degree and one count of criminal responsibility of corporations. A statement from the attorney representing one of the victims’ family members has indicated that said family alone would receive $14 million in a settlement with Total Transportation. Extrapolating this settlement across all five victim families would bring the total cost of legal fees and settlements to over $70 million.
These costs are representative of a dramatic trend in the industry. But are they justified? Insurers and industry experts largely say no – the implications of which are significant. Most transportation businesses don’t have the cash reserves to cover such a settlement, which makes plain the importance of liability coverage. Yet insurers are equally concerned. Several transportation insurance carriers are reducing coverage limits, raising rates, or dropping clients entirely. Many freight carriers will now need two or three insurance policies to procure $10 Million or more in liability coverage. What will the future of trucking legal settlements and damages look like? And how can safety and risk management practices reduce insurance premiums and the likelihood of such tragic and costly events? Contact the trucking insurance experts to learn more.