Beeline to Safety

July 1, 2010

By Aaron Huff

Mapping, mileage technology extends from office to cab. For example, Schneider National is implementing Maptuit NaviGo on its Qualcomm MCP200 in-cab computers.

For Safety's sake 0710Getting lost is a major source of stress and anxiety for truck drivers, and stress increases the chance they could be involved in an accident. “We definitely know that when drivers are lost, they make bad decisions,” says Don Osterberg, senior vice president of safety at Schneider National.

The Green Bay, Wis.-based company has taken several steps to address the problem of drivers getting lost. Schneider designed a simulation training program for drivers to learn how to get “unlost” while keeping their composure, or “situational awareness.” Experiences in the simulator and in the real world have proven that drivers are less safe when trying to reorient themselves, Osterberg says.

Schneider recently implemented the Maptuit NaviGo in-cab navigation service that integrates with the company’s operations software and onboard computing and communications system to provide drivers with turn-by-turn spoken directions.
When a truck is in motion, a driver sees an arrow on the screen of his Qualcomm MCP200 in-cab computer that indicates the location of the next turn and distance to it. “We believe that being able to provide better, more granular directions will reduce anxiety,” Osterberg says. “Less anxiety means fewer crashes.”

NaviGo also reduces in-cab distractions such as maps and handwritten directions, as well as looking for road signs. “All of those become tertiary tasks that are not related to driving,” Osterberg says.

Companies that provide mileage, mapping and routing software in the trucking industry all say that fleet customers using their latest navigation products are seeing a return on investment from improved safety and efficiency.

Last year, Rand McNally launched the IntelliRoute Truck Navigation Device (TND), a standalone device that includes all of the legal and physical details for truck routing. This month, Rand McNally plans to release a second version of the TND device that features a larger 7-inch screen. Later this year, Rand McNally plans to release an integrated fleet version of TND that has the ability to communicate with a server, says Amy Krouse, director of public relations.

Carriers also can leverage their drivers’ personal laptops to deploy navigation systems. All of ProMiles’ CD-based versions of its mileage and routing software have a truck-specific navigation feature called “Drive Mode.” Drivers will need to purchase a GPS antenna, which can be found at most truckstops.

Drive Mode provides spoken directions with an arrow pointing to the next turn and the distance to it. “We are starting to see more companies willing to buy a license for their back-office work, and then turn around and buy several dozen to a couple hundred licenses for their drivers’ personal laptops to allow them to be more efficient in the cab,” says Chris Lee, vice president of marketing.

Route Auditing
Besides offering navigation systems, software providers continue to add more features and services to help fleet managers improve efficiency in the office.

ALK Technologies recently added two new applications, PC Miler Tolls Auditor and PC Miler Tolls Manager, both powered by EBE Technologies. ALK provides the mileage, routing and toll cost data through a Web service, while EBE Technologies provides the workflow analysis tools.

Craig Fiander, ALK’s vice president of marketing, describes the two products as driver performance management tools. The Tolls Manager application automatically will audit the toll costs associated with a planned route versus the actual route a driver took. The Tolls Auditor application can audit the toll costs associated with both the planned and actual route versus the invoices from electronic toll collection and discount programs such as EZ Pass.

ALK is offering two types of pricing models for the two products. One option is to pay a transaction fee for each exception the software generates, such as when a variance occurs in the planned versus actual toll costs per driver, customer, etc. The other option is a monthly service fee based on the number of trucks.

Recent developments by providers of mapping, mileage and routing systems ensure that carriers and drivers have the most accurate up-to-date information necessary to run their businesses safety and efficiently.