KANANASKIS, Alta. – A group of panelists discussing technology in the workplace agreed forward-facing cameras are a must-have for carriers in 2019.
Brian Mofford, vice-president of technology for Drivewyze, said cameras are all about protecting your drivers in the event of an incident or collision.
“I think carriers want to make sure they can prove that it wasn’t the truck driver’s fault,” said Mofford, adding drivers are increasingly buying into the use of cameras, including to some extent rear- and side-facing options.
Speaking during the “technology in the workplace” panel at the Alberta Motor Transport Association Leadership Conference and AGM April 27 in Kananaskis, Alta, Jean-Sebastien Bouchard, vice-president of sales and a partner with Isaac Instruments, agreed on the importance of using forward-facing cameras, which have several benefits to fleets.
He did caution carriers on the manner in which they use the vast amount of footage cameras capture on a daily basis, and who is reviewing this sometimes sensitive material.
“It’s not just the risk the drivers are going through as they are driving, it’s also a question of ‘what am I going to do with all this data?’” said Bouchard. “I’ve seen situations where many drivers have not seen this, and it’s a good coaching tool to be able to show somebody. At the end of the day, it’s not just a question of proving you’re not guilty. If you can avoid it, it’s even better.”
Marc Moncion, head of safety, compliance, and regulatory affairs for Fleet Complete, said when collisions occur, 90% of the time the vehicle in the rear of the incident will be blamed. But it’s not always the case the rear vehicle is at fault, and forward-facing cameras can vindicate a driver.
Bouchard said fleets need to examine their operations and look at what steps and process can easily be automated using today’s array of technology options, starting with quick, simple tasks.
“It’s going to take you time, it’s going to take you a lot investment to train your drivers, to get everything up and running,” he said. “You need to go for a technology to future-proof your company.”
One piece of technology all fleets in Canada will soon be forced to get used to is electronic logging devices (ELDs).
Moncion said several lessons were learned from the ELD rollout in the U.S. about a year-and-a-half ago, both from the drivers’ perspective and enforcement.
“Inspectors were seeing 300 different types of devices all of a sudden and they didn’t know what to make of it because the functional requirements said these data items must be listed but we’re not going to tell you how it’s going to be projected on a tablet or on a phone,” said Moncion. “You had some older guys who were used to paper, and they were like the truckers. They resisted the technology as well.”
Moncion said some inspectors were continuing to ask drivers for paper logs, and advised Canadian carriers to instruct their drivers to maintain a paper log in addition to using ELDs as a failsafe to avoid any misunderstandings that could lead to an infraction.
Bouchard said one of the biggest lessons Canada has taken away from the U.S.’s ELD mandate is how devices are certified.
“You’re going to go on the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) website and you’re going to find about 500 devices out there,” said Bouchard. “Many of which are not compliant, and we all know this.”
Canada will use third-party certification, which will protect carriers by ensuring the ELD they are using is fully compliant.
ELDs may be one example of a piece of technology that has been regulated by the government. But it took a while for this to happen, despite the technology being there and many in the industry urging a change from paper logs.
Mofford said one way government, industry, and technology can find more common ground when it comes to regulation is to look to the U.K., where a new process enables finance companies to test their innovations with real customers in the marketplace within a controlled and monitored environment.
The new process allows government to learn about new technologies and better regulate them. Mofford hopes similar efforts can be employed in Canada to help technology innovators, government, and industry collaborate to bring technology to the marketplace faster.
Moncion, a former inspector for the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, who also sits on various regulatory bodies, said when he worked for the government, the goal was always to get industry buy-in on any effort. He also made a point to be involved in the process to have ELDs mandated in Canada by attending meeting south of the border, as well as work with the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Transport Canada to provide feedback.
As technology continues its march forward, the panel said carriers need to understand what works for their particular needs and make the right choices.
“As the technology evolves, I think it’s important for the manufacturers and the OEMs to make sure we’re thinking about the integration of those systems,” said Bouchard. “If it’s not simple and it’s not in front of you, it’s just a waste because nobody is going to use it.”
Mofford urged those in the industry to focus on what’s here and now, and not get caught up in what’s further down the road, like autonomous vehicles.
“The connected vehicle is real, it’s happening today,” he said. “We’re seeing some real benefits with the connected vehicle and I think we’ll see more advancements with the connected vehicle in the next 10 years than we will with autonomous.”
Whether it’s a current reality or a dream for the future, Moncion believes technology ultimately helps the lives of drivers, as well as all in the industry.
“Technology can be helpful and beneficial,” he said, “but by the same token you have to use common sense and be mindful of the job at hand.”
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