The Evolution of Safety in the Commercial Transportation Industry
Commercial trucks transport many needed goods for people all around the world; while the techniques have adapted amid the ever-increasing speeds and load sizes. The transportation business is older than recorded history. However, commercial transportation transformed in the 1900s with the adoption of fuel-driven automobiles. By the 1940s trucks were seen as the main transportation solution in North America. It’s often said that commercial trucking got revamped with the logistical techniques learned in World War II. Due to the heavy use and requirements, many issues and safety hazards were recognized in that world conflict, which inspired much of the crafty engineering protecting our operators today.
Commercial transportation has come a long way since the days of using canals, carriages, and horses. Back then, there were fewer hazards or risks due to the slower operating speeds. As engine-powered vehicles began to be used for commercial transportation, they introduced many new potential hazards and risks for operators and other vehicles on the road. A lot of perils went unrecognized until an incident actually occurred. They made limited changes to recognized hazards in the early days. There were no restrictions in place or regulations that held manufacturers to a high standard of producing safe operating vehicles for commercial transportation.
As time went on, standards were formed. These were designed to guide the safe manufacturing of commercial transportation vehicles, as well as safe operator guidelines. Some of the first introduced regulations were vehicle inspection requirements to check for defects or damages that could affect the safe operation of a commercial transportation vehicle. As more advanced standards came into place, considerations such as emissions were considered. These limitations were designed to protect the environment as well as mitigate smog emissions in large metropolises. These protocols at first were aimed at decomishoning antiquated vehicles that were inefficient. But later incentivised a whole new look at the industry. Many leaders found that after implementing limitiations they saved money on fuel expendatures they didn’t realize were an issue.
By the late 80s, operator safety training was on the rise and it’s benefits were apparent. Operators were required to go through rigorous training programs to obtain their license to operate large commercial transportation vehicles. This operator training often includes defensive driving tactics, as well as how to understand all components of your vehicle as an operator and how to perform basic corrections to small defects or issues that could cause safety concerns. By introducing training and licensing requirements for operators, it weeded out the operators who did not operate safely or abide by laws such as speed limits or even posed a danger to the other public roadway drivers near them.
As the manufacturing industry evolved, many new technologies, new materials, and new practices were used in the manufacturing process of commercial transportation vehicles. The seat belt is one of the most notable additions to commercial transportation vehicles that did not always exist and was not always a requirement for operators. Better headlights were slowly adopted into the manufacturing process that enabled operators to have a better sightline of their path of travel. The use of cameras such as rearview cameras has also recently been implemented and can benefit operators by providing them insight. Blind-spot detection is also a new technology that is implemented in some newer commercial transportation vehicles that helps notify when a vehicle is in an operator’s blind-spot. And when accidents do occur, the relatively new implementation of airbags has saved countless lives.
Some of the newer standards or regulations in the commercial transportation industry include guidelines for manufacturers and companies that use electric vehicles. These new approaches to the industry reduce the emissions. Fully electric powered commercial transportation fleets are rare in today’s climate, but they are not far from reality. Not only due to less emissions but electric vehicles have great torque and an ability to recharge through brake heat and other efficient energy collection methods. However, we are still far from full adoption.
While the world’s technology progressed, the commercial trucking industry utilized new devices like GPS, infrared detectors, and others to document unsafe practices. A fairly new technology concept to commercial trucking is the use of telematics and fleet management software that can track drivers. For instance, telematics can track hours of service, vehicle inspection results, and other safety risks. They do this by sending alerts to a fleet management who can then relay any pertinent information back to the operator or supervisor. They can also be used to score and rank fleet operators on their safe or unsafe behavior tendencies. Some have even used telematics for prediction, yet these results aren’t proven. Advanced telematics can detect things such as unsafe braking in vehicles, operating over the legal speed limits, the use of seat belts, swerving of the vehicle and even behaviors that indicate the operator may be tired.
From the silk road to today, the transportation industry has seen a vast shift in technologies but still holds true to its initial goals. Deliver goods as practically and efficiently as possible. It would seem safety and other things have been factored into this industry only recently, but to say it was not a concern of the ancients is a simplification. The fact that modern vehicles are more hazardous necessitated many of these changes.
Regardless of why, we now see an industry that has great controls and contingencies. Let’s hope we continue these refreshing trends into the future. After all, the safer we make transportation, the more available everything will be.
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