Principal Technical Analyst
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released research this week on the benefits of using speed limiters (SLs), also known as speed governors, in large trucks. For more information, view the FMCSA's document, titled "Speed-Limiters."
SLs are a technology that allows trucking fleets or truck owners to program a preset maximum speed of travel. Many trucking fleets use SLs not only to increase safety by reducing their trucks’ top speed, but also to reduce tire wear, extend the life of the brakes and engine, improve fuel economy, and so on.
In January 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed limiting the speed of all heavy trucks to 68mph. NHTSA stated its intent to initiate the rulemaking process on this issue in 2012. Read NHTSA's notice in the Jan. 3, 2011 Federal Register.
Viewpoints differ on the issue of mandating the use of SLs in heavy trucks. Agencies and groups such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Road Safe America, and the Truckload Carriers Association, have stated their support for SLs in large trucks for reasons including reduced severity of crashes and various economic benefits. However, critics of government-mandated SLs, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), have stated their opposition for reasons such as the potential for speed-governed trucks to become “rolling roadblocks” when operating in faster flows of traffic.
Research published in the American Journal of Public Health in March 2009, titled “The Effect of State Regulations on Truck-Crash Fatalities,” examines the effects of certain traffic safety policies and restrictions on fatality rates in truck-involved crashes.
Entries in Accident Research (14)
According to a new survey by AAA, outreach efforts to educate parents of children under age 13 regarding child safety seat use have yielded positive results. Nearly a year ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its recommendations regarding the use of rearward-facing seats for children over the age of one, recommending that children remain in rearward-facing car seats until age two—or until the child exceeds the height and weight limits of the child seat. Read our earlier blog post, "New Child Seat Recommendations from the AAP and NHTSA" to learn more.
AAA found that over 90% of the parents with children under age 13 heard of the new guidelines by AAP. Several parents heard of these guidelines from their child’s pediatrician. AAA also found that one in three of the parents surveyed changed how they allowed their child to travel in the vehicles.
Seventy-seven percent of parents with children younger than age two who did not make any changes based on the AAP’s recommendations reported that they were already meeting or exceeding these guidelines. However, there were other parents who were allowing their children to graduate to bigger seats or seatbelt use prematurely for reasons such as discomfort.
AAA’s article, "AAA Survey Reveals 'Boost' in Car Seat Compliance," reinforces the need for parents to follow the guidelines set forth by the AAP in order to help reduce serious injuries and death among children in automobile crashes. The article can be found in AAA's "Newsroom."
We're into the home stretch of an excellent conference, and the first session after today's lunch is Passenger Car Event Data Recorder (EDR) Applications.
The first speaker is Michael Varat from KEVA Engineering. Mr. Varat is discussing a method of modeling and completing an incomplete crash pulse in passenger vehicle EDR data sets. In this case, the RCM from a Ford captured a portion of the crash pulse, but not the entire pulse. Mr. Varat's presentation uses the techniques for crash pulse modeling, or curve fitting, that are described in his 2000 SAE Technical Paper. This is super cool! Mr. Varat mentioned that the technique he is describing will be the subject of a 2012 SAE paper. I am looking forward to reading it!
The second speaker is Dr. Matthew Craig of NHTSA, who is discussing Advanced Automatic Collision Notification (AACN). The goal is to get the "right person to the right place, at the right time." This means getting those who are seriously injured to a Level 1 Trauma Center. This is extremely important and useful information. Having worked in law enforcement and been a first responder to quite a few crashes, I'm well aware of how difficult it can be for medics and officers to respond appropriately and make good triage decisions. EDR data may be highly beneficial to AACN algorithms. NHTSA is working with the CDC on estimating the benefits of AACN, as well as the implementation of AACN systems to the level of the 911 center.
The third speaker is Tony Reed from TRL in the United Kingdom. Mr. Reed is discussing the EDR experience in the UK. Most EDRs are purpose built Incident Data Recorders and have been used mostly by emergency responders (police, fire, ambulance). Less than 1% of the UK fleet are US vehicles, based on Mr. Reed's research. In spite of the small numbers, TRL has taken a leadership role in EDR data acquisition and analysis in the UK, and has purchased the CDR Tool.
Mr. Reed discussed a case where the Thames Valley Police called on TRL to use the Bosch CDR Tool. (I am jealous by him stating that in the UK, all police agencies use Total Stations and will be moving to 360 degree laser scanners.) The case involves a Chrysler 300 that struck a slow-moving vehicle on the M40, west of London. Mr. Reed was able to cross-check the EDR data using both HVE Software and also with CCTV that was active on the Motorway. Using these techniques, Mr. Reed and TRL were able to validate the EDR, and the striking driver pled guilty to Careless Driving Causing Death, "in the face of overwhelming evidence." Very neat stuff!
Over the last two days, I've had the great pleasure of speaking with Mr. Reed at some length on the subject of electronic tachographs that are mandated by the EU and in use throughout Europe. Seeing the type of data mandated and available in the EU has been very interesting.
The last speaker in this group is Cleve Bare of Exponent, who is discussing the potential issues with Serial Bus latency as pertaining to pre-crash data. Mr. Bare and his colleagues instrumented a test vehicle and demonstrated that the speed shown at Time = -1 occurred at random intervals, evenly distributed at any point in the final second before algorithm-enable. The vehicle speed was accurate to within approximately 1 mile per hour. Their hard braking runs showed wheel slip as would be anticipated in such circumstances.
Visit SAE's page to learn more about the speakers. View the Event Guide for the SAE 2011 Highway Vehicle EDR Symposium (pdf).
Session Three of the SAE 2011 Highway Vehicle EDR Symposium has five speakers who are trucking safety professionals discussing their and their companies' experience with Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) and various Event Data Recorder (EDR) systems.
The first speaker after lunch was Jerry Waddell from Cargo Transporters. Mr. Waddell discussed their positive experience with Critical Event Reporting, especially in notifying management of hard brake events.
The second speaker is Brett Graves from Maverick Transportation. Maverick Transportation is using predictive modeling to enhance the safety of their fleet. Their predictive models have greatly reduced their reportable and preventable rates per million miles.
The third speaker is Michael Baker from Usher Transport. Usher Transport has had ONLY FIVE rollovers in the 27 years that Mr. Baker has been there in safety. WOW!!! Some statistics from his presentation: 1/5 rollovers have two contributing factors: inattention & drowsiness. 1/5 rollovers results from excessive cornering speed. Lowering a trailer three inches increases stability by 10%. More stats: freeway off-ramps account for 7% of rollovers; interstate highways account for about 31%. State highways account for the remaining 68%. Forty-seven percent of rollovers result from lane departures. Only 9% result from cornering too fast.
The fourth speaker is James Burg of James Burg Trucking Company (JBTC). JBTC uses Drivecam Video Event Recorders and hauls normal and oversized loads. JBTC uses Drivecam as a training tool and also in incident and crash investigations. It has helped with company policy compliance, driving safety, and driver training. JBTC really works to make their drivers better drivers.
The fifth speaker is Sam Faucette from Old Dominion Freight Line. Old Dominion is the largest LTL carrier using EOBRs. They use a list of several variables that are monitored in order to evaluate safe, efficient operations. Like the other companies, they are turning "data" into useful information.
All five companies represented have one thing in common. They view safety as a human issue and rely on the EDR systems as tools to help the safety manager make good decisions and improve driver performance. Although they use different techniques and different tools, they are all focused on developing high quality, well-trained, professional drivers.
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research is an awesome facility. One really nice aspect of the room is that seating is at tables with five (comfortable) chairs. There's plenty of space, room for briefcases and backpacks, and the wifi is great! Opening comments from the Hon. Ann Ferro were delivered by video--tough to pull off, but with the technology in this building and the organizers' preparation, it came off quite well.
First speaker is Dr. Gabler from Virginia Tech. Dr. Gabler is discussing the "Big Picture" on light vehicle Event Data Recorders (EDRs). In general, the topic is how he and NHTSA are using EDR data to improve vehicle safety. It's pretty amazing, sitting here today, to think that 10 years ago Dr. Gabler was asked IF EDR data could be used for safety research. Personally, the most fascinating thing in Dr. Gabler's presentation is the use of EDR data for improving triage decisions after serious crashes.
Next speaker is Sandeep Kar. This presentation is about trends in telematics and urbanization. The topic of population growth patterns (mega cities to mega regions and mega corridors) affecting the development of new vehicle types is not a topic I've specifically thought about, but wow! There is incredible potential here for using telematics in a number of ways (including safety and compliance, but also emissions & logistics).
Third speaker is Joseph Kanianthra. Dr. Kanianthra is discussing the future of EDRs in safety. Ninety percent of primary causal factors are related to the operator: recognition errors, decision errors, erratic actions, fatigue, impairment, etc. Only 10% are primarily vehicle or roadway defect-related. The major idea of this presentation is that future injury and fatality prevention will be driven by prevention, more so than enhanced protection.
I think the moderator, John Hinch of NHTSA summed it up well: the big picture is bigger than any one person imagines.