Driver safety is a top concern, which is why companies that put trucks on the road go the extra mile to create a safety-first culture and invest in driver training and vehicle maintenance. “Safety” might not be the first word fleet managers think of when they consider commercial navigation technology, but it can be one of the most effective ways to keep drivers safe. The right navigation technology — one that’s designed from the ground up for commercial vehicles and takes vehicle dimensions and load into account — can significantly improve driver satisfaction, efficiency and keep drivers prepared and proactive to ensure safety in several critical ways.
Helps Drivers Avoid Low Bridges and the Need for Risky Maneuvers
Everyone who’s traveled on busy highway systems knows what it’s like to realize at the last minute that the exit they need to take is on the left instead of the right. It’s dangerous enough for a passenger vehicle to maneuver across several lanes of traffic to get to the exit, and the risk is even greater for larger, heavier commercial vehicles.
Commercial navigation technology can help drivers avoid those risky maneuvers, alerting them well in advance about turns and exits with visuals that reflect real road signage. Navigation technology like CoPilot lets drivers know where they need to be with lane assist guidance, helping them avoid missing exits or taking a wrong turn — thus eliminating the need for risky maneuvers.
Commercial navigation technology also gives drivers a heads-up about non-public, truck-specific facility entrances and exits. Since consumer-grade GPS lacks this information, maps built for passenger car drivers direct commercial vehicles to a street address instead. This can result in wasted time while drivers figure out where to go and/or unsafe maneuvers to get to the truck entrance or exit.
Routing for commercial vehicles should consider vehicle dimensions and the materials being transported, and that’s a key safety feature in an effective commercial navigation technology package. Bridge strikes can be costly and deadly, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has identified consumer-grade GPS as a culprit in many accidents since mapping technology built for cars doesn’t take vehicle height into account while recommending routes.
Allows Drivers to be Proactive with Alerts and Advance Warning
Roadwork that causes slowdowns on busy highways can create a safety risk for vehicles of all types, but big trucks are especially vulnerable. The Federal Highway Administration found that large trucks were involved in a third of all fatal crashes that occurred in work zones, even though big trucks typically make up only about 5% of traffic overall. Even outside of work zones, sometimes traffic comes to a sudden stop, and that can set off chain-reaction accidents as other drivers fail to stop in time.
It’s difficult for a passenger car to brake suddenly at a high speed, and large trucks take even longer to come to a stop. That’s why alerts based on real-time traffic data are so important. With the right commercial navigation software, drivers can receive alerts based on current data up to five miles out from a traffic flow stoppage, enabling drivers to be proactive and slow down ahead of time.
Additional features of commercial navigation software to keep drivers safe are rollover warnings and speed limit alerts. With these real-time alerts, drivers will be notified if their current planned route path matches the approach path to a rollover risk point and if their current speed is high enough to have triggered rollover risk events for other drivers. They will also receive a notification if they are going over the posted speed limit.
These real-time alerts keep the driver — and everyone else on the road — safer.
Minimizes Driver Distraction
Distracted driving is a major worry for fleet managers. In fact, a 2020 study found that distracted driving topped fleet managers’ list of concerns, with nearly a third surveyed reporting that they worry about their drivers’ ability to avoid distractions.
At-a-glance instructions and large, clear icons can tell drivers what they need to know while keeping them focused on the road. That’s why user interface is an important factor when selecting commercial navigation technology. It’s a good idea to look for features like specific day and night color schemes, unintrusive pop-ups and/or voice notifications for excessive speed, rollover alerts, traffic warnings, etc., to reduce distractions while keeping drivers informed.
Commercial Navigation Technology Improves Driver Satisfaction AND Safety
Commercial navigation technology improves driver safety in all of these critical ways — helping drivers avoid risky maneuvers, providing a heads-up on traffic conditions, and eliminating distractions. It helps drivers stay in compliance with road regulations and prevent bridge strikes. For all of these reasons, fleet managers who put safety first should consider commercial navigation technology a key ally in that effort, because prepared drivers are the safest drivers.