The trucking industry’s headlong dive into the latest technological solutions for just about everything begs the question as to whether we need more artificial intelligence or driver intelligence? We keep on putting more black boxes into the cab, at great expense, but how much is being spent on making the drivers themselves better?
There is no doubt that the vast amount of electronic equipment being included in truck and trailer design is having a positive impact on both the safety and productivity of everyone concerned, when utilised in the right way.
From a company’s boardroom the idea of a safety package which stops any truck rear-ending a vehicle in front of it by using the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system is a great idea and will undoubtedly save lives, and insurance claims.
There are numerous other technologies which are coming into the truck cabin and there is no sign the flow of technology into trucks is going to stop any time soon. Most of these are proving to be effective, but what about the human being in the heart of all of this?
OK, the truck system will alert the operator that there were so many harsh braking incidents today and the engine was over revving for so much time this week, but does this really change the behaviour of the driver involved? Is driver morale improved by a series of meetings with their manager about what they are doing wrong.
Surely, in an ideal world the technological systems are put there simply to act as a backstop, to mitigate the damage caused by a momentary lapse in concentration, or the errant stupidity of a car driver in the truck’s vicinity?
Working with a truck driver to get their skills up and teaching them improved driving techniques may be quite a mission with a rapidly ageing workforce, but creating the right atmosphere around the art of truck driving is important. It is a profession, and an important one.
Having a driver who is full of self esteem, and fully informed about how to drive a vehicle in the safest and most efficient way possible is an asset to any business. Backing them up with all of the latest safety and productivity technology is simply helping them do their job in the best possible way.
Having the attitude that using the technology is simply the only method to control the driver and cover the operator’s backside from potential liability seems to be a contentious way of going about things and a sure fire way to create more issues.
You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the latest artificial intelligence in a truck fleet, but the most intelligent factor when the truck drives down the highway is still the driver, and a properly prepared and trained driver is the most intelligent asset an operation can have.