As fleets adopt technology, the public remains skeptical of safety focus

freight technology

Commercial drivers are among the safest drivers on the roadways, but based on general public perception, and anti-trucking safety groups that highlight the number of yearly incidents involving big rigs, it would be difficult to tell that.

According to data within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), there were 164,529 large trucks involved in crashes in 2018, with 79,879 injuries and 4,708 deaths reported. Those numbers were comparable to 2017's figures, with 154,634 crashes, 75,985 injuries and 4,858 deaths.

In 2013, the American Trucking Associations released results of a research project conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. That study looked at 8,309 fatal car-truck crashes and found that in 81% of the incidents, the car driver was assigned fault, versus just 27% of truck drivers to which fault was assigned. Similarly, a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified 10,092 fatal car-truck accidents and assigned blame to the car driver 91% of the time in head-on crashes. It also found that 71% of the time the car driver was responsible for rear-end crashes.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) said that commercial trucks traveled over 9.4 billion miles in 2017. While the numbers can be significant, when putting them in context based on the number of miles traveled and compared to automotive-only numbers, a different story emerges.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 0.94 passenger car occupants were killed in 2017 per 100 million truck miles traveled. Conversely, 1.16 people were killed per 100 million miles traveled overall in 2017. Statistically speaking, fewer people die in truck-car crashes than in car crashes alone.

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Technology Trends You Can’t Ignore

Logistics Technology

Strategic technology trends have the potential to drive significant disruption and deliver significant opportunity. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must evaluate these trends to identify opportunities, counter threats, and create competitive advantage, according to a recent Gartner report.

KEY REPORT FINDINGS

Artificial intelligence (AI) opens up a new frontier for digital business. This is because virtually every application, service, and Internet of Things (IoT) object incorporates an intelligent aspect to automate or augment application processes or human activities.

Artificial intelligence (AI) opens up a new frontier for digital business. This is because virtually every application, service, and Internet of Things (IoT) object incorporates an intelligent aspect to automate or augment application processes or human activities.

The way we perceive and interact with technology is undergoing a radical transformation. Conversational platforms, augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality will provide more natural and immersive ambient experiences within the digital world.

Digital representations of things and organizational processes are increasingly used to monitor, analyze, and control real-world environments. These digital twins combined with AI and immersive experiences set the stage for open, connected, and coordinated smart spaces.

Formal mechanisms to identify technology trends and prioritize those with the biggest potential impact on the business create competitive advantage.

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Trucking industry sifts through an abundance of tech options

technology in the trucking industry

As the transportation industry adapts to a digital world, owner-operators to large fleets are all grappling with how to adopt new technology.

"There are more technology choices than ever. Bob's trucking, Sue's trucking, Mario's trucking are hearing from nine million different sources, trying to sort that out," said industry consultant Randy Mullett of Mullett Strategies during Transparency19 on May 8.

Matt McLelland, innovation strategist at Covenant Transport (NYSE: CVTI) and Mario Pawlowski, CEO of iTrucker.com, joined Mullett in a discussion with FreightWaves Associate Editor John Paul Hampstead about how technology trends are affecting the transportation industry.

The wide-ranging conversation included the current struggles among some owner-operators to adapt to electronic logging devices (ELDs), to the ultimate implications of 5G wireless technology and green trucking.

"If drivers and small fleet owners don't adapt, they are going to be out of business," said Pawlowski, whose company provides ELDs and other tech solutions.

At Covenant, McLelland is tasked with identifying emerging technology and working with executives to incorporate it into the fleet.

"We're figuring it out. We don't have a lab or a testing facility," McLelland said.

The company will be taking delivery on a 2020 Freightliner Cascadia, which includes Level 2 automation, largely covering safety features.

The adoption of 5G networks may not deliver any immediate benefits to the industry. But it will open the door to bigger breakthroughs in technology because of the additional bandwidth.

"That may translate into someone who can drive a truck with a joystick sitting in a room somewhere," Mullett said.

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Nikola Rolls Out Trucks for Zero-Emissions Future

Nikola Trucks

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Nikola Motor Co. CEO Trevor Milton, 28 months after unveiling a prototype Class 8 sleeper, presented to about 2,000 attendees and a global audience watching online two heavy-duty trucks and three other specialty vehicles he said are ready to spark a zero-emissions future.

The heavy-duty trucks that drove out from behind the curtains one at a time, amid swirling lights and loud music as people put their cellphones on video, were the stars of the event.

As a bright red Nikola Two day cab took center stage, Milton said, "This is a real truck. This is a real [hydrogen] fuel cell," seeming to speak to those who doubted the emerging truck maker would ever get this far.

Nikola introduced a hydrogen fuel cell Class 8 prototype Dec. 1, 2016, in Salt Lake City, its former headquarters. It is now based in Phoenix.

The day after the presentations here, Nikola offered the public a first look at the trucks as well as two zero-emissions power sport vehicles and another one designed for special forces operations, which included the ability to be operated remotely like a drone.

"We want to transform everything about the transportation industry. With Nikola's vision, the world will be cleaner, safer and healthier," Milton said.

The flat-front Nikola Tre, bound for Europe, and the Nikola Two day cab will be available either with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell or battery-electric power. As battery-electric vehicles, customers can order either one with 500 kilowatt-hours, 750 kWh or 1 megawatt hour battery-pack options.

The U.S. truck is slated to go into initial production in 2022, after field trials. The Tre is expected to reach fleets by 2023, although Milton said during a later press conference he is looking to partner with a European truck maker to reach that market.

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