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Con-way Freight introduces Drive Safe Systems

In-cab “monitor, sense and alert” systems expanded with event recorders and on-board performance management, complementing existing suite of collision avoidance, lane departure warning and roll stability control technologies. (Courtesy Con-way)

The Trucker News Services

3/6/2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Con-way Freight, a less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier and subsidiary of Con-way Inc. (NYSE: CNW), announced the full deployment of Drive Safe Systems, a suite of advanced on-board “monitor, sense and alert” technologies, which, coupled with continuous, peer-based driver training and coaching, will enhance overall safety performance and operating efficiency of the company’s 15,000 professional drivers operating its 8,600-truck fleet, officials said.

Drive Safe Systems incorporates five in-cab technologies that alert drivers to potential safety risks and help them respond, improve situational awareness, provide feedback to refine safe-driving skills and defensive-driving techniques and maximize safe, fuel-efficient operations, officials said.

“Drive Safe Systems is first and foremost about supporting our drivers in the safe operation of our fleet and equipping them with tools to continuously learn and improve,” said Tom Clark, the company’s senior vice president of operations. “These technologies provide real-time feedback and coaching that helps our drivers recognize and correct unsafe behaviors, ultimately reducing accidents and near-misses. We want to be proactive in preventing crashes from even happening, and that means investing in proven technologies that complement and enhance the driver’s professional skills.”

The rollout of Drive Safe Systems represents the addition of two new in-cab safety technologies which join three existing “sense and alert” on-board systems that have been factory-installed in every new Con-way Freight tractor since late 2009. The two new systems are:

• Event recorders. This is a compact, windshield-mounted unit that records activity inside and outside the cab. The recording is continuously erased unless the unit is triggered by an event such as hard braking, turning or rapid deceleration. When activated, the unit saves a 12-second audio and visual recording — eight seconds before and four seconds after the event. The recording and other supporting data is uploaded via cellular networks to a “cloud-based” software application where it is subsequently shared with drivers to recognize exceptional defensive-driving performance which avoided an accident or incident, and provide coaching to identify opportunities to improve driving skills. Known as DriveCam powered by Lytx, the hardware and software system is provided by driver safety technology company Lytx, Inc.

• Real-time on-board performance management. This in-cab technology provides real-time feedback that helps the driver employ best practices for fuel-efficient driving. The system takes into account vehicle, road, load and environmental conditions, and gives the driver input in areas such as shifting ranges and pace of acceleration to achieve optimal fuel economy. Vnomics Corp. manufactures this on-board performance management platform.

Con-way Freight’s three existing “sense and alert” in-cab safety technologies are:

• Collision avoidance featuring forward-looking radar with adaptive cruise control, which continually measures distance to a vehicle ahead and automatically slows the truck if it is approaching too rapidly and the driver does not engage the brakes in a timely manner. Known as the OnGuard System, this collision avoidance technology was developed by Meritor WABCO.

• Lane departure warning, which monitors a truck’s position relative to highway lane markings and issues an audible alert similar to traveling over a “rumble strip” if the operator unintentionally drives out of the lane. Known as the AutoVue system, this technology was developed by Iteris.

• Roll stability control, which senses conditions that are consistent with a vehicle about to roll over, such as during hard cornering or change of direction, visually alerts the driver, and automatically decreases engine torque to reduce rollover tendency. This system also was developed by Meritor WABCO.

Proactive coaching aims to prevent behaviors shown to cause accidents Professional athletes and coaches use video and real-time data all the time to identify performance techniques that can be improved, Clark noted.

“We’re doing the same thing with our professional drivers and how they operate our trucks,” he explained. “It’s a fundamental shift in our approach. Before we reacted after-the-fact, analyzing accidents and why they occurred. Now we’ve flipped the process, focusing instead on using technology and real-time information as a positive, proactive coaching experience to adjust behaviors, remove risk, prevent incidents and improve safety.”

Mick Galbraith has been a professional truck driver with Con-way Freight for over 26 years, amassing nearly 3 million miles without a preventable accident.

“I think I can speak for my fellow drivers when I say we’re competitive, we take pride in being professional, we want to be the best. New technologies can help an experienced driver realize opportunities to improve skills,” he said. “These systems provide direct, real-time feedback; you can immediately see and understand unsafe behavior. It’s an opportunity to learn and correct something before it leads to an accident. That’s a real benefit that makes the driver a better operator and the roads safer for everyone.”

Con-way Freight is the first LTL carrier in the U.S. to simultaneously deploy both the event recorder and advanced performance management technologies fleet-wide. The company chose to adopt the technologies after an extensive pilot-testing program with several dozen drivers, who provided direct feedback on features, function, usability and effectiveness. Clark added that early results with the event recorders show that as more drivers receive coaching, the number of safety-related events and the severity of events decline. Combined with other fuel-saving initiatives, the on-board performance management system is expected to gradually improve fuel economy by as much as 4 percent as drivers learn and apply its coaching features. On an annual basis, a 4 percent improvement would reduce diesel fuel use by 3.6 million gallons, eliminating 80 million pounds of CO2 emissions.

“We find that time and again our investments in tested and proven safety technologies provide measurable payback, not just in reduced operating costs, but in significantly improved safety performance,” Clark said. “Our drivers, the roads we share with the motoring public and the freight we carry are safer because of it. And that’s our top priority.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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