Category Archives: Trucks

More miles. More risk. Why better routing is a safety thing.

truck-driver-safetyYou don’t need to be told that the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. Even if you’re the most careful truck driver out there you unfortunately need to share it with a lot of unsafe drivers (you possibly have other words to describe them).

Unfortunately, as a professional driver you need to be on the road. You know well the saying that if the ‘wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning’ but to avoid becoming a statistic there are some ways to mitigate the risks.

Safer trucks have helped but records show that truck occupant fatalities have increased from 0.16 per million miles in 2009 to 0.21 in 2014. Increased traffic on the roads have no doubt contributed to the increase.

While safe, defensive driving helps there are some clever ways to use new tech to make each trip safer – by making it shorter.

Driving less miles is better for everyone

When you’ve been driving the same route for a long time you probably think you already know the best route but when you’re driving an 80,000lb 18-wheeler you generally have a few more challenges finding the best route compared to the average motorist.

And when you run a fleet of trucks, across different routes with different pickup and delivery requirements you can easily be driving more miles than you have to. Aside from the reduced risk that come from minimizing mileage there are other benefits:

  • Reduced fuel spend – With average economy for a large truck around the 6 mpg mark it make sense to curtail your gas bill where you can.
  • Less wear and tear on the truck – You most likely paid over a quarter million for the truck and trailer; make sure you get your money’s worth.
  • Improved profitability for each job – If you’re driving more efficiently between jobs then you’re getting a better return – and spending less time doing it.

So what’s involved in finding the best route for every job? Here’s how a little bit of tech wizardry can help.

Finding the best route for big trucks

As you know, if you’re driving a big rig there are some restrictions on what routes you can take. Some municipalities may restrict vehicles over a certain weight or size. If you’re carrying hazardous materials there’ll also be roads you can’t take. Then there are the practical concerns such as having sufficient room to maneuver or crossing lines of traffic. The problem doesn’t stop just because you’ve arrived at the street address, in fact it can be significantly tougher as you navigate your truck through a tight parking lot or distribution yard.

This is when you realize that relying on something designed for consumers just isn’t suitable for commercial drivers. You need a fully featured commercial navigation solution that can consider all route restrictions to find the best one.

  • Legal routes – Route using only roads that are legal for the specific size, weight and load type of your truck.
  • Driver feedback – Routes updated frequently with feedback from over 150,000 professional drivers.
  • Right-side routing – Avoid having to cross lanes of traffic by making sure your destination is always on the same side as you’re traveling in.
  • Multiple-stop optimizationOptimize your delivery route based on the stops you need to make (see also customer time-windows).
  • Customer time-windows – If deliveries can only be made during a specific time window, you can specify this in the routing software.
  • Avoiding left turns or U-turns – Choose if you prefer to avoid making certain maneuvers, useful for areas with high congestion.
  • Traffic congestion – Avoid certain roads during periods of high traffic.
  • Road closures or detours – Update routing quickly to accommodate temporary road or lane closures.
  • Unique route hazards (blind corners, hidden exits etc.) – Add spoken notes that the navigation device can read out when approaching unique hazards along the way.
  • Narrow roads or low bridges/canopies – Using the dimensions of your vehicle, you can make sure that you avoid any structures your truck won’t get through.

Even when you’ve been driving for years it’s hard to figure out the optimum route when you need to factor in so many variables. Even just working out the best route when you have multiple stops soon gets into the millions of possibilities.

Safety starts with better routing

It’s not just reducing the number of miles (and thus your exposure to the risk of being in an accident) that better routing offers you – it’s also about helping you stay calm, confident and in control all the way to the final destination.

A Senior VP of Safety & Security at Schneider National has been quoted as saying that ‘a lost driver makes bad decisions and routes themselves into trouble.’ With reliable, accurate turn-by-turn navigation guiding you from start to finish, you can make sure there’s one less dangerous driver on the road.

Top 5 Biggest Dump Trucks

Trucks are big but when it comes to really big trucks you can’t go past dump trucks. They rule the roost when it comes to overall size, particularly height and weight.

Most can be found working opencast mines around the world where their size is not always apparent – dwarfed by even larger diggers and cranes they might even look small from a distance. But get up close and personal and you really start to appreciate that these trucks are most definitely the heavyweights of the trucking world. Most people can barely reach halfway up a tire wall. With diesel engines that weigh as much as 25,000 pounds and up to 12 turbochargers these aren’t your average suburban shopping trolleys.

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HOS Ruling Cuts Driver Hours by 15%

The FMCSA has released their final ruling on the maximum number of driving hours from 82 down to 70 in an effort to combat accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers.

The ruling comes after many months of public consultation and modifications to CSA 2010.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the final HOS ruling on December 22, 2011, basing it on the latest research in driver fatigue and replacing the existing FMCSA hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers.

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Oil prices reach new high. How can truck drivers stay profitable?

Truck owners know that when you pay all the bills you realize how costly running a truck can be. Multiply that by hundreds and it’s not surprising to know that trucking fleet owners are constantly keeping an eye out for ways to reduce fuel costs.

With oil prices topping $95 a barrel recently, pushed by higher seasonal demand and hints of stability in European financial markets, it is just another reminder to truck owners, in fact anyone in the freight industry, that fuel costs need to be managed if a fleet (or single owner/operator) is to remain profitable.

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CSA 2010 – Safer trucking?

It has almost been a year since CSA 2010 was introduced to all carriers throughout the U.S. It was progressively rolled out through 2010 and modified several times to make the system more workable for both government agencies and truck owners.

Has it been successful? Has it achieved its aims of Compliance, Safety, and Accountability? Many experts in the industry have warned of the dangers of receiving a poor CSA ranking, but how has it really affected fleets? Is it taking dangerous drivers, or unsafe carriers off the road?

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When will we see electric truck fleets?

There’s ongoing discussions about converting commercial fleets to electric vehicles (EV). Most companies seem to be taking a wait and see approach to see how the technology develops and the infrastructure establishes itself to make it a viable option. The case for smaller EVs is obviously making progress, even if it isn’t as fast as some would like. But what about heavy duty OTR fleets? Will they be converting aging diesel trucks to electricity anytime soon?

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How can truck fleets can avoid the mistake of greenwashing?

More and more companies are being exposed as being guilty of greenwashing. In fact, a report issued in 2009 by TerraChoice, a North American environmental marketing agency, assessed more than 2000 products and found that 98 percent were guilty of greenwashing. The damage to a company’s reputation if exposed as a greenwasher could be extremely costly, both in dollars and customer loyalty.

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Using GPS Maintenance Reports to Minimize Truck Downtime

Trucks are often the workhorses of a business. They are relied on, day after day to keep working, and to work hard. Truck downtime is costly and obviously to be avoided or minimized as much as possible.

What’s the key to keeping any vehicle breakdowns to an absolute minimum? Regular preventative maintenance, performed at the specified intervals for the vehicle according to the manufacturers guidelines. And while that’s not new, following through on that wise advice is often easier said than done.

Why do a lot of firms find it so difficult to perform regular service checks and routine maintenance on their trucks?

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Top 5 spectacular truck crashes

No one likes to be caught in a traffic accident. Even a minor fender bender can hurt you in the pocket if nothing else. But when a truck is involved you know it’s going to be bad. We’ve rounded up five of the best, five of the most spectacular truck crashes on record.

If nothing else it just impresses the need to keep your truck drivers safe with fleet monitoring software and an effective safety training program.

Buckle in – you’ll be grateful you’re only watching them!

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Clearing the Air with Freightliner and SCR

scr-freightliner-green-trucksOne of the largest suppliers of trucks in the U.S., Freightliner is promoting SCR technology, the emissions control system that is compliant with EPA 2010 emission regulations, reducing harmful NOx gases by around 95%.

SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) is available through Freightliner distributors in a wide range of trucks, with a selection of motors including Detroit Diesel DD13, DD15 or DD16 and Cummins ISX. SCR-equipped engines are designed to meet the tough EPA 2010 regulations, which have been phased in between 2007 and 2010.

Why is SCR better than other treatment systems?

While being slightly more expensive than the competing Navistar EGR system, SCR has been proven to increase fuel efficiency by around 5%, compared with EGR that in some cases actually worsens fuel economy. The extra cost of an SCR-equipped engine is soon offset by the fuel savings, making it a good investment for long-haul trucking companies.

SCR technology is being used by other truck makers as well including Mack and Western Star.

Another reason a lot of truck makers are choosing SCR is that it is proven technology, with over 200,000 vehicles in Europe having used it for years and around 10 million test miles driven in the U.S.

How does SCR work?

SCR works by using DEF (Diesel Emissions Fluid) to convert dangerous NOx into harmless nitrogen and water. As shown in the diagram below (courtesy of freightliner.com) in Step 3, DEF is introduced into the exhaust gases and then the conversion takes place into the SCR.

scr-def-freightliner

In the animated video below DEF is shown being introduced into the catalyst to convert NOx gases into nitrogen and water.

Truck drivers are required to top up their DEF tanks, normally around ever third fill of diesel (DEF is used at around a rate of 2%, a 23 gallons of DEF will last around 7,500 miles. Drivers and carriers can use the helpful discoverdef.com online tool to locate their nearest DEF supplier.

Why is NOx bad for us?

The reason the EPA have chosen to introduce strict emissions requirements and remove NOx from vehicle exhausts is that NOx is harmful both to the environment and to humans. NOx is used to describe the grouping of Nitric Oxide and Nitrogen Dioxide and is released into the atmosphere primarily from vehicle exhausts.

NOx is one of the key ingredients of tropospheric ozone, and has been linked to several health complaints, such as:

  • Irritation of the respiratory system resulting in problems such as throat irritations
  • Reduced lung function making breathing more difficult
  • Aggravation of asthma increasing the number of attacks suffered
  • Increased vulnerability to respiratory infections
  • Inflammation and damage to the lining of the lungs

The work of the SCR and truck makers and suppliers like Freightliner has meant that often the air leaving the truck is actually cleaner than the air going in – and that’s good news for us and the planet.

 

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