Transportation Experts

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Emerging technologies are targeting autonomy, safety and efficiency for the trucking industry. Both traditional trucking suppliers and technology start-ups are striving to be the first to impact the industry’s landscape dramatically in the coming decade.

New fatigue-monitoring systems aim to reduce crashes using wearables, smartphone-based tests and camera systems. These innovative technologies could pave the way for more personalized hours-of-service regulations (wouldn’t that be great?) and sideline drivers who show significant signs of fatigue.

The federal government is heavily invested in the hours-of-service regulations to minimize driver fatigue and prevent fatigue-related accidents, but drivers report that the “one-size-fits-all” approach to the regulations doesn’t always work for them. New technologies that will help individual drivers detect their own fatigue levels may give them the tools they need to help prevent fatigued driving based on their own individual needs.

Here are 4 fatigue-combatting technologies that are emerging in the trucking industry.

1. Wristwatches or Fitbit-like devices

These wearable devices can detect fatigue by measuring drivers’ sleep quality and track biometrics like heart rate and blood pressure.

2. Hats and caps

There have been technological breakthroughs using hats or caps that can detect head movement and allow drivers to see in real-time if they are exhibiting signs of fatigue.

3. Smartphone-based tests

Smartphone tests like a psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) test measures the cognitive alertness of drivers. Originally developed by NASA as a tool for measuring the fatigue level of astronauts during space missions, PVT tests are being used by researchers to study driver fatigue and hours-of-service rules. Visibility into a drivers’ sleep duration and quality, combined with a PVT, offer a refined image of a driver’s alertness and fatigue levels.

4. Video mapping and facial mapping

Video monitoring and facial mapping are among other technologies being refined as fatigue-detection tools.

While the future of fatigue-detection technologies is unknown today, it seems clear that the technology will be relied on in the future. In an industry where 415,000 truck-involved crashes occur annually, it is well worth it to leverage fatigue-detection technologies as a way of mitigating crashes and reducing human injury and death. It remains to be seen when, or how, the Department of Transportation (DOT) might integrate fatigue-detection technology into hour-of-service regulation in the future. But before then, it will be up to the trucking industry to demonstrate the value of such technology and data generated to effect desired rules changes.

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