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From the old cart days to modern autonomous technology, driving a truck has come a long way since its humble beginnings in trade. Once horses were swapped for horse power, the industry has always been at the forefront of embracing technologies and finding innovative ways to get the job done. What we don’t hear as often, is how the driver has evolved along with the machinery that surrounds them.

Advanced telematics is now easily accessible to the average business to help them and their drivers better manage all aspects of their work including fatigue, trip scheduling and on-road safety.

So how is technology shaping the truckie of today?

The Best Driver They Can Be

No one is perfect, yet you’ll rarely have a driver admit that their handling could use a bit of fine-tuning. We’re all confident behind the wheel, whether it’s your personal car, commercial work ute or heavy vehicle, but it’s that confidence that can be our downfall. In fact, a study of Swedish and American drivers once found that about 80 per cent of them considered themselves above average, which has a bigger impact on safety than you’d think. When our behaviours are recorded and measured through telematics, it can give you a unique insight on exactly how safe you drive. With the Chain of Responsibility (COR) legislation changes coming into effect later this year, fleet managers can’t afford to be in the dark about driver behaviour.

Technology, such as vehicle tracking, isn’t about naming and shaming or being Big Brother, but recognising negative habits and coaching drivers on how to improve their behaviour. With driver alerts, it allows actions to be fixed on the spot, and SMS alerts can be sent to notify management of ongoing problematic behaviour. These behaviours, good and bad, are stored and tracked against a driver’s scorecard, where these events can be replayed and used to assist further driver training. It allows drivers to know how they’re going and improving over a period while giving management insights into how drivers act. This all leads to positive initiatives to help fulfil your obligations to health and safety.

Never Off The Grid

When a driver is out on a job and whether they’re expected to return to base in an hour or a few days, they need to be easy to track down and get in touch with. If a driver runs into trouble, such as bad traffic or a breakdown, management finds out the hard way that there’s been a delay. Some drivers opt to rely solely on mobile phones despite the dangers of illegal use while driving, with the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester putting at least part of the blame for a rise in road deaths on mobile phones last year. And that’s not to mention the issues drivers run into if they’re travelling in a remote area where reception is limited or non-existent.

GPS fleet tracking allows back office staff to look up drivers while on route and get an ETA. Two-way messaging functions from the in-cabin device means drivers can be contacted without distraction. Navigation allows drivers to get step-by-step routes that are up-to-date with trip information, such as weather or traffic disruptions, in real-time. It’s an easy and efficient way to keep the entire operation moving smoothly and minimises the unexpected from causing trouble.

Digital Is The New Black

In today’s transport and logistics industry, you’ll rarely see a paper map on the dashboard when there’s turn-by-turn navigation just a screen tap away. So, why give drivers a paper check list when they can get access to all the information they need from the one place? Storing documentation on an electronic device is one of the simplest ways to make a driver’s life easier. Performing a vehicle inspection with a pre-trip checklist means issues can be addressed as they’re discovered - the checklist is sent directly to the back-office, with the ability to take photos as proof. Paper-based forms become a thing of the past when you’re able to create as many of your own forms that are specific to your business. Once submitted, both checklists and forms are available to report on and action from the back-office.

Electronic Work Diaries (EWDs) allow for easier ways to manage fatigue and track work and rest times, while real-time and proactive alerts give the driver up-to-date work and rest information. Drivers don’t need to keep one eye on the clock and know they are being compliant. It helps save time on manually entering information once the trip is finished, reducing the risk of duplication and inaccuracies.

If you’ve yet to see how technology is revolutionising the industry, then it’s time to stopping planning and to start acting. The modern truck driver is one that isn’t held back by out-of-date processes and is instead one that is efficient and more aware of their actions on and off the road.

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Chris L'Ecluse is a Solution Specialist - Enterprise at Teletrac Navman.

Chris L'Ecluse is Solution Specialist at Teletrac Navman and a Work, Health & Safety guardian angel. A qualified Master Driver Trainer, Chris has extensive experience, knowledge and background to educate industries on work, health & safety laws and safe driving behaviour.