The technologies making HGVs safer and more efficient


A recent report published by UK safety charity Brake has shown that despite potential technology on offer to help make HGVs safer, only one in five HGV operators surveyed had a rear-facing camera on all of their fleet vehicles. In 2014, Transport for London (TfL) decided that more needed to be done about the lack of technology currently on HGVs and started independently testing on different types of safety technology, with the aim of reducing the risk of collisions. At present, HGVs are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal collisions. In 2014 alone, HGVs were involved in nine out of every 14 incidents leading to cyclist fatalities in the UK.

The next generation cameras, GPS tracking and sensor technology for HGVs is aiming to help reduce the world’s annual 1.3 million road deaths. TfL are currently investigating improvements that can be made to the two main types of HGV safety technology on offer – camera systems and sensor systems – both of which are developing software that will create external warnings to alert the cyclist or pedestrian of the vehicle’s next manoeuvre.

Below are some examples of the HGV safety technologies available on the market today, and how they can help fleet organizations to become more efficient and ultimately safer.

GPS tracking

Unfortunately, many GPS trackers for HGVs use a proprietary software that requires installation and software updates onto the user’s computer; a highly impractical restriction for those larger companies with one or more health and safety managers who wish to access the live feed. However, there are some trackers that offer software over an internet login portal, which can be accessed from any internet-enabled device, making the software more practical for multiple logons and portable for those organisations with a number of depots.

Real-time tracking is the desired method for tracking HGVs, despite its higher running cost. The real-time information can not only aid management decisions, but it can also alert the customer when the HGV delivery is nearby. Another advantage to GPS tracking devices, is fuel savings, the GPS software (especially if using Google maps) can identify the shortest route, using as little fuel as possible and providing an accurate forecast of fuel costs for the months ahead.

Video cameras

In an effort to reduce fleet bills, many companies are installing video cameras in HGVs. However, many fleet managers underestimate the operational burden that can follow the installation of these ‘dash cams’. A video camera isn’t necessarily designed to detect other road users; its sole purpose is to capture accidents for insurance in evidence-based situations. Although many organizations see initial improvements with driver safety and efficiency, eventually the volume of data can become rather overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a designated fleet manager who has the time to trawl through what could be potentially hours of footage.

Badge safety scheme

Although this scheme may not necessarily seem like the most advanced way to make HGVs safer and more efficient, many organizations who offer this service promise a long-lasting ability to review actions taken by the drivers and alter behavior immediately.

The online system enables client companies to manage their occupational road risk, by providing real-time management information reports, which they can access via a login portal at any time. How’s My Driving? a not-for-profit badge safety scheme is one of the only road safety schemes in the UK to promote the use of full Microsoft web stack technology, which allows all of the products used to be from Microsoft. It also allows organizations to use the Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server to create, build and maintain their own data/comments about their vehicles from the public to create real-time, readily available statistics.

In order to manage your occupational road risk (MORR) it is important to implement HGV safety strategies that you think will work for you and your budget. A badge safety scheme can be a great way to improve your public image and provide you with more information about your driver’s actions, but it won’t actually improve the safety of your vehicles. Video camera installation will provide evidence if needed in case of an insurance query or dispute and GPS tracking technology will provide you with potential fuel savings and a higher customer satisfaction.

Megan Stealey, co-ordinator, How’s My Driving?

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