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Con-way Freight Introduces Safe Driving Technology

In-cab “monitor, sense and alert” systems expanded with event recorders and on-board performance management, complementing existing suite of collision avoidance, lane departure warning and roll stability control technologies

Con-way Freight, a less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier and subsidiary of Con-way Inc., announced the full deployment of Drive Safe Systems, a suite of advanced on-board “monitor, sense and alert” technologies, which, coupled with continuous, peer-based driver training and coaching, will reportedly enhance overall safety performance and operating efficiency of the company’s 15,000 professional drivers operating its 8,600-truck fleet.

Drive Safe Systems incorporates five in-cab technologies that alert drivers to potential safety risks and help them respond, improve situational awareness, provide feedback to refine safe-driving skills and defensive-driving techniques, and maximize safe, fuel-efficient operations.

“Drive Safe Systems is first and foremost about supporting our drivers in the safe operation of our fleet and equipping them with tools to continuously learn and improve,” said Tom Clark, the company’s senior vice president of operations. “These technologies provide real-time feedback and coaching that helps our drivers recognize and correct unsafe behaviors, ultimately reducing accidents and near-misses. We want to be proactive in preventing crashes from even happening, and that means investing in proven technologies that complement and enhance the driver’s professional skills.”

The rollout of Drive Safe Systems represents the addition of two new in-cab safety technologies which join three existing “sense and alert” onboard systems that have been factory-installed in every new Con-way Freight tractor since late 2009. The two new systems are:

Event recorders. This is a compact, windshield-mounted unit that records activity inside and outside the cab. The recording is continuously erased unless the unit is triggered by an event such as hard braking, turning or rapid deceleration. When activated, the unit saves a 12-second audio and visual recording—eight seconds before and four seconds after the event. The recording and other supporting data is uploaded via cellular networks to a cloud-based software application where it is subsequently shared with drivers to recognize exceptional defensive-driving performance which avoided an accident or incident, and provide coaching to identify opportunities to improve driving skills. Known as DriveCam powered by Lytx, the hardware and software system is provided by driver safety technology company Lytx Inc.

Real-time on-board performance management. This in-cab technology provides real-time feedback that helps the driver employ best practices for fuel-efficient driving. The system takes into account vehicle, road, load and environmental conditions, and gives the driver input in areas such as shifting ranges and pace of acceleration to achieve optimal fuel economy. Vnomics Corp. manufactures this on-board performance management platform.

Con-way Freight’s three existing “sense and alert” in-cab safety technologies are:

• Collision avoidance featuring forward-looking radar with adaptive cruise control, which continually measures distance to a vehicle ahead and automatically slows the truck if it is approaching too rapidly and the driver does not engage the brakes in a timely manner. Known as the OnGuard System, this collision avoidance technology was developed by Meritor WABCO.

• Lane departure warning, which monitors a truck’s position relative to highway lane markings and issues an audible alert similar to traveling over a rumble strip if the operator unintentionally drives out of the lane. Known as the AutoVue system, this technology was developed by Iteris.

• Roll stability control, which senses conditions that are consistent with a vehicle about to roll over, such as during hard cornering or change of direction, visually alerts the driver, and automatically decreases engine torque to reduce rollover tendency. This system also was developed by Meritor WABCO.

First LTL carrier to adopt nationwide
Con-way Freight is the first LTL carrier in the U.S. to simultaneously deploy both the event recorder and advanced performance management technologies fleet-wide. The company chose to adopt the technologies after an extensive pilot-testing program with several dozen drivers, who provided direct feedback on features, function, usability and effectiveness. Clark added that early results with the event recorders show that as more drivers receive coaching, the number of safety-related events and the severity of events decline. Combined with other fuel-saving initiatives, the on-board performance management system is expected to gradually improve fuel economy by as much as 4 percent as drivers learn and apply its coaching features. On an annual basis, a 4 percent improvement would reduce diesel fuel use by 3.6 million gallons, eliminating 80 million pounds of CO2 emissions. 

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