How Monitoring Motorcarriers Moves Us All

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2 min to read

Motor-carrier monitoring has been a mainstay of trucker life since 1913, when the first state-weight restrictions were established. With today’s take-off in transport technology, more advanced–and some would say invasive–onboard monitoring systems (OMS) are making fast inroads in fleet management.

Since the Motor Carrier Act was passed in 1935 to control safety and the trucking industry, semi-surveillance systems, from weight restrictions to fleet regulations, have been viewed a boon and a burden to both transport managers and truckers.

Eyes on the Drive–and Drivers

Fleet managers integrate monitoring solutions for three main reasons, to reduce fuel usage, increase efficiency, and improve accountability. Especially for auto transport, more monitoring means being able to provide an even greater level of security and reliability on every road and at every rest stop.

The latest uproar over OMS are those featuring both a road-facing camera and driver-facing camera, that send the recordings back to carriers for monitoring. American Central Transport has raised pay for truckers who have to adopt the Lytx Drivecam system, adding an undeniable advantage to what is often seen as invasive oversight. Although the addition isn’t optional has cultivated easier acceptance and put a positive spin on discussion among drivers.

Fleet managers state the systems are not intended to “catch” delinquent drivers but to improve and encourage drivers to become safer and smarter. Beyond the “big brother” image, monitoring enables targeted training and easier assessment of accountability, increasing efficiency for both the company and driver.

The Department of Transportation is expected to announce this week a proposed rule that would mandate the use of speed limiters on heavy trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also scheduled to announce a mandate on the use of electronic logging devices–fortunately, a corresponding rule would protect drivers using the device from being coerced or harassed by carriers.

Benefits On Both Sides

Although monitoring systems are sometimes viewed as an invasion of privacy, drivers don’t deny the advantages.

Accident accountability and truck theft are two reasons owner-operators are supportive of road-facing cameras, observed Montway’s Fleet Safety and Compliance Manager.

Recordings of accidents assist with increased accuracy in determining who is at fault. This means liability protection is another major benefit influencing the recent adoption of this technology. Many fleets have reported that the recordings have prevented them from facing multimillion-dollar settlements or court cases.

Cameras on trucks deter theft, and if something is stolen, the surveillance can help catch the culprits.

Onboard diagnostics can even alert managers to maintenance issues while trucks are on the road, before they become problems, saving both owners and operators the time and cost associated with a breakdown.

In a clever effort to connect cameras to trucking culture, Overdrive Magazine created a hub for on-highway videos shot with systems like DriveCam and other forward-facing video recorders.

Monitoring Mandates

According to a July 2014 Overdrive Magazine poll, 21 percent of drivers surveyed utilize a road-facing camera, 7 percent run with both road- and driver-facing camera systems, and 6 percent have at least some form of safety and/or efficiency assisting camera-system (backup-assist, blind spot coverage, etc.).

Most companies track truckers with a minimum of continuous GPS. This is extra helpful in auto transport management. Because car shipping can take several days, knowing where every car and carrier are along the way is especially important.

Unfortunately, cost and capacity also contribute to the capabilities carriers are able to adopt at this time. Top-notch technology today isn’t cheap. As tracking tech becomes increasingly affordable and regulated, however, the obvious advantages, overall benefits, and of course legal requirements of onboard monitoring systems will lead to increased implementation and overall improved transport management.

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