Trucking can benefit from neuroscience, digital transformation

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Neuroscience can help the trucking industry improve road safety, enhance driver performance and tailor training for truckers.

Technology that tracks the brain and facial expressions can detect distraction, fatigue, and sleepiness in drivers, Heider Al-Mashalah, from Smart Freight Centre based in Hamilton, Ont. told

An EEG (electroencephalogram) test that measures electrical activity in the brain using small electrodes attached to the scalp could help tailor training programs, he said on the sidelines of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario’s (TTSAO) annual conference on Feb. 21 in Brampton, Ont. Brain imaging and EEG can find out how drivers think and make decisions. For example, they could measure their reactions along an unfamiliar route.

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Haider Al-Mashalah speaks during the Truck Training School Association of Ontario’s 7th annual conference in Brampton, Ont. (Photo: Leo Barros)

Monika Stolarz, McMaster Digital Transformation Research Centre’s business development officer said the organization is looking at ways to make roads safer by improving training by using eye-tracking and EEG technology to understand the challenges faced by commercial drivers.

Faced with an aging driver population, technology could support the industry by helping individuals stay employed for longer, she added.

Adding value

Digital technologies can help trucking companies transform how their business operates and add value to their customers’ experience, Al-Mashalah said during a presentation at the conference.

Technology can streamline and optimize transportation operations and improve safety and compliance. Trucking organizations that don’t adopt new technology may risk falling behind competitors, he warned.

He cited current and emerging technology including big data cloud computing, wireless systems, electronic logging devices (ELDs), autonomous trucks, platooning, electric vehicles, using blockchain to digitalize transactions and digital freight matching platforms.

Reducing environmental impacts

Al-Mashalah told attendees that benefits include increased efficiency and safety, and reduced environmental impacts.

Technology comes with challenges that include data privacy, integration and adoption barriers. He added that cybersecurity is important and not all technology is compatible in an organization. Also, implementation may face resistance from employees who are concerned about job displacement.

Digital transformation is lagging in Canada, Al-Mashalah noted, although e-commerce sales in the transportation and warehousing industry increased to $51 billion in 2021.

Lagging in technology adoption

Statistics Canada data reveals that 78.3% of transportation and warehousing companies have not adopted new technologies and only 11.9% implemented security and software tools. And less than 0.5% integration has been made in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Al-Mashalah noted that digital transformation in trucking will lead to better customer collaboration, provide a competitive advantage to companies and offer environmental and social benefits.

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at

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