As transport and logistics companies respond to increased demand and supply chain issues, driver safety is of greater concern than ever before.
For companies that put trucks on the road, it’s paramount to go the extra mile to create a safety-first culture by investing in driver training, prioritizing vehicle maintenance and using commercial maps. And when retaining drivers is a challenge, how safe and well equipped they are can mean the difference between failure and success.
The right navigation technology solution—one that’s designed from the ground up for commercial vehicles and which takes vehicle dimensions and load into account—can significantly improve driver satisfaction and efficiency by proactively ensuring safety in several critical ways:
#1 Avoiding Low Bridges and Risky Maneuvers
Everyone who’s traveled on busy highway systems knows what it’s like to realize at the last minute that the exit they need to take is on the left instead of the right. It’s dangerous enough for a passenger vehicle to maneuver across several lanes of traffic to get to the exit. The risk is even greater for large, heavy commercial vehicles.
Commercial navigation technology helps drivers avoid those risky maneuvers, alerting them–in advance–to turns and exits with visuals that reflect real road signage. Navigation technology like CoPilot aids drivers with lane assist guidance, helping them avoid missing exits or taking a wrong turn.
Commercial navigation technology also gives drivers a heads-up about non-public, truck-specific facility entrances and exits. Since a consumer-grade GPS lacks this information, maps built for passenger car drivers direct commercial vehicles to a street address instead. This can result in wasted time while drivers figure out where to go and/or make unsafe maneuvers to get to the truck entrance or exit.
Routing for commercial vehicles should consider vehicle dimensions and the materials being transported, and that’s a key safety feature in an effective commercial navigation technology solution. Bridge strikes can be costly and deadly, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has identified consumer-grade GPS as a culprit in many accidents since mapping technology built for cars doesn’t take vehicle height into account while recommending routes.
#2 Being Proactive with Alerts and Advance Warnings
Roadwork that causes slowdowns on busy highways can create a safety risk for vehicles of all types, but big trucks are especially vulnerable. Last year, the Federal Highway Administration found that large trucks were involved in a third of all fatal crashes that occurred in work zones, even though heavy-duty trucks typically make up only about 5% of traffic overall. Even outside of work zones, sometimes traffic comes to a sudden stop, and that can set off chain-reaction accidents as other drivers fail to stop in time.
It’s difficult for a passenger car to brake suddenly at a high speed, and large trucks take even longer to come to a stop. That’s why alerts based on real-time traffic data are so important. With the right commercial navigation solution, drivers can receive alerts based on current data up to five miles out from a traffic flow stoppage, enabling drivers to be proactive and slow down ahead of time.
Potential rollovers and speed limit violations are also major concerns when driving a heavy commercial vehicle. It’s crucial that drivers be notified if their current planned route path matches the approach path to a rollover risk point and if their current speed is high enough to have triggered rollover risk events for other drivers. And as commercial drivers move from highway to road and back again, tracking posted speed limit changes and avoiding potential violations can be a real challenge. A purpose-built commercial navigation tool can provide the real-time alerts drivers need to keep themselves — and everyone else on the road — safe.
#3 Minimizing Driver Distraction
Distracted driving is a major worry for fleet managers. In fact, a 2020 study found that distracted driving topped fleet managers’ list of concerns, with nearly a third surveyed reporting that they worry about their drivers’ ability to avoid distractions.
At-a-glance instructions and large, clear icons can tell drivers what they need to know while keeping them focused on the road. That’s why user interface design is an important factor when selecting a commercial navigation tool. It’s a good idea to look for features like specific day and night color schemes, unintrusive pop-ups and/or voice notifications for excessive speed, rollover alerts, traffic warnings, etc., to reduce distractions while keeping drivers informed and enabling them to do what they do best.
Technology Improves Driver Satisfaction and Safety
Commercial navigation technology improves driver safety in all of these critical ways — helping drivers avoid risky maneuvers, providing a heads-up on traffic conditions, and eliminating distractions. It helps drivers stay in compliance with road regulations and prevent bridge strikes. For all of these reasons, fleet managers who put safety first should consider commercial navigation technology a key ally in that effort, because prepared drivers are the safest drivers.