Am I the only one that looks at the stories from the past in the back of Truck Journal with a sense of regret that those times are gone? Certainly the work was hard, but the sense of team work born of hard manual labour required to get the job done and a focus on doing the job well to retain the customer for repeat business (rather than to keep the paperwork in order) makes me think we might have lost something along the way. Trucks were much slower back then, and less forgiving. Customers understood that poor weather and closed roads would affect when they received their deliveries… are these just the wistful wannabe memories of someone who is too young to have experienced the harsh realities of that time?
Perhaps of course these days, health and safety is no longer about the avoidance of pain and personal injury, it is about the avoidance of paperwork and additional cost. As time has marched on, technology has arrived to “help” the driver to help himself, but far from dumbing down the role of the driver, now more than ever, we need intelligent people behind the wheel.
Some of that technology;
- ABS to mitigate the effects of braking too hard
- EBS to try to prevent rolling the truck, despite the driver’s best efforts
- G Force alerts, including the telltale red light that tells you Drivecam has started recording. These have been around for a while, but 50 years ago your alert was a hot cup of coffee landing in your lap. (even that has a modern solution in the spill free travel cup….)
- Remote tyre pressure monitoring to warn of poor grip (or poor fuel efficiency)
- Lane departure warning, and auto-correction steering – so far this only tells you when the cab is out of line, but I’m sure trailer swing will soon be captured too
- Speed limiters to save you from your own heavy right foot
- Self check lights systems for when it’s a bit too chilly to do your walk around check in the morning
- Cruise control to help manage your cruising speed
- In cab navigation, so you no longer need to plan your route in advance or check landmarks to check you are still heading in the right direction
With the relentless pressure to do more with less, trucks are getting bigger and more powerful, but unfortunately despite all of this technology, and more that I haven’t mentioned, it is still possible to crash, and the best way to avoid that is to have a conscientious, responsible, well trained person behind the wheel.
If you are upgrading your fleet from 480hp to 730hp you want to know who can drive the smaller truck without relying on the above list of gadgets. Without a shadow of a doubt, if you have drivers who love their EBS because it means they can get through corners faster (yes we have had a driver confess to that one), they are not the ones to reward with a bigger truck. We are starting to monitor more and more of these sensors remotely for our customers to help them make better decisions in driver training and rewards because 50% more power means your limits could be a blur in the rear view mirror before you realise you’ve gone too far this time.