There’s no question about it — fleet managers understand how important safety is to their fleet and overall operations, and, therefore, do everything they can to make safety a top priority.
But, despite fleet managers’ efforts, accidents still occur every day, many of which are caused by unfavorable weather conditions or from drivers behind the wheel of poorly maintained or ill-equipped vehicles.
While nothing can be done to improve the weather, there is plenty fleet managers — highly effective fleet managers — can do to improve their vehicles and make them safer. One is performing routine maintenance and staying on top of repairs. Another is implementing vehicle safety technologies.
The average number of car accidents in the U.S. is 6 million every year. By outfitting current vehicles or purchasing new vehicles equipped with safety technologies, fleet managers can positively impact that number, improve safety and boost their bottom line.
So, what are some of the top technologies to help fleet managers bring that about? Let’s take a look.
Forward Collision Warning Systems
Forward collision warning systems help reduce the possibility of rear-ending another vehicle — one of the most common accidents caused by driver inattention. Systems monitor traffic in front of the vehicle and use sensors, radar and cameras to measure the distance and speed between vehicles.
System options vary by manufacturer. Some provide visual or audio warnings to the driver, while others have automatic braking capability when the vehicle is too close to another vehicle.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that vehicles equipped with forward warning systems experience a 23 percent reduction in rear-end collisions, while those equipped with forward collision prevention and automated braking avoidance experience 40 percent fewer rear-end collisions.
Lane Detection Systems
Lane detection technology alerts the driver with either an audible alarm or vibration in the steering wheel or seat, when they unintentionally start drifting over the lines marking their lane.
There are more advanced systems that automatically steer the vehicle back into the lane, but no matter the capabilities of the system, research from IIHS shows lane detection systems are helping prevent single-vehicle, sideswipe and head-on crashes.
With automatic braking, the vehicle’s braking system is automatically activated — to some degree — when the vehicle senses a collision is imminent. There are also advanced systems that can bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Whatever system is implemented, it’s important that the driver is fully aware of his or her surroundings at all times.
Automatic braking technology relies on radar or light-detection and ranging (LIDAR) and sensors that are situated on the front of the vehicle. The sensors send out a signal that analyzes potential obstacles in the vehicle’s path.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and IIHA have reported that approximately 20 automakers are committed to making automatic braking systems standard on all new cars sold in the U.S. by September 1, 2022.
Backup cameras, also known as rear-view cameras, give drivers an unobstructed view of the back of the vehicle, which is very helpful when backing out of a space, maneuvering into a parking space or for spotting small objects, children or pets. The camera is activated when the transmission is set to reverse, with a video or image appearing on a screen in the center console or in the rear-view mirror.
Capabilities differ by manufacturer and include view only, view/sensor with an alarm that sounds if the vehicle is too close to an object, and view/sensor/alarm combined with automatic braking.
As of May 1, 2018, backup cameras were legally required as standard safety equipment on all vehicles made for the American market.
Blind Spot Warnings and Cross Traffic Alerts
Blind spot monitoring cameras are typically fitted under the side-view mirror, and activate when a driver is trying to change lanes. If the camera senses any vehicles coming up in the driver’s blind spots, it warns the driver with either a visual, audible or tactile warning.
Cross traffic alerts rely on the same sensors as a blind spot detection system, and warn the driver of vehicles approaching either side of their vehicle.
With both blind spot and cross traffic technology implemented, drivers have 360 degrees of coverage.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control takes basic cruise control up a notch by letting drivers set their speed without the worry of resetting it manually when traffic slows. It uses radar or lasers to judge the distance between a vehicle and the vehicle in front, and automatically adjusts the throttle to ensure a safe driving distance.
Adaptive headlights help increase visibility on roadways by automatically adjusting light direction and intensity, based on the driver’s steering. Poor visibility is a major cause of nighttime accidents, and with adaptive headlight technology, the headlights move with the vehicle, allowing drivers to see the road much better around turns and curves, over hills and in hazardous conditions.
Every fleet manager places driver and vehicle safety as their highest priority. While weather events cannot be controlled, implementing the proper vehicle safety technology is the best way to improve safety metrics and bolster bottom-line performance.
Want to learn more about how technology can impact your fleet? Read our eBook on Fleet Telematics.