We’ve come a long way since paper maps and long road journeys with only the radio or a Good Buddy to keep us company. Along with the invention of GPS and electronic logbooks, we wanted to take a look at some of the other tech revolutions which are changing long-distance driving for the better. 

Matchmaking on the go

No, I am not talking about Trucker Tinder (although, now I’ve thought about it…). There are plenty of live loadboards and freight apps which are making return-load arrangements so much easier. Some apps allow truckers to post their availability and capacity, so that shippers can contact them with their consignments. Or there is the option to scroll through available cargo and pitch your quote to the shipper directly. Freightabase’s Quick Quote is one example of an app which is matching available loads to carriers every day. 

A cap which keeps your head up

We’ve all been in a position where exhaustion and fatigue has hit us, and there is technology out there which can actually save lives. Safe Cap is one such device. The product was created by Ford Trucks, and looks just like an ordinary cap – handy for keeping the sun out of your eyes, in the first instance. But this cap also detects and interprets a drivers’ head movements and alerts them with vibration and sound when it detects you might be drifting off. 

If you don’t fancy getting hat hair, there’s also the Vigo. Worn like a Bluetooth headset, this lightweight device functions similarly, and also takes into consideration blinking patterns, alerting you if it interprets a loss of focus. You can even choose how you’d like to be warned: pulsing vibrations, LED lights or even your favourite energy-inducing song.

Want company? Podcasts are your best friend

True crime podcasts are excellent if you want to get lost in a mystery which keeps your brain firing, or there are comedy podcasts if you’d rather have a more light-hearted distraction (email me for my favourites!). There are even specific podcasts catered to our industry: some popular ones include Trucker Dump, which is hosted by a 20-year veteran of the haulage industry, and Supply Chain Dive.

One final note…

What might you quote as being the biggest risk to European drivers? Dangerous road-users? Severe weather conditions? 

Perhaps surprisingly, the biggest risk to drivers is…themselves. 

It has been proven that using a mobile device while driving is a safety risk to drivers and other road users. This risk is multiplied when driving larger vehicles such as HGVs. Drivers are four times more likely to crash in such cases.

Using your mobile phone while driving is an offence – you can be charged a £200 fine on the spot, or taken to court for a fine of up to £1,000, or £2,500 if you’re driving an HGV. All of this in addition to having six points added to your licence. You could also be putting your company at risk of their professional licence too.

Reaction times for drivers using a mobile phone or handheld device are drastically affected, risking the safety of both themselves and those around them. A person’s average reaction time is one second, yet the following factors will inhibit your reflexes:

  • Exceeding the drink drive limit results in 13% slower reactions
  • High on cannabis? It’s 21% slower
  • Using a hands-free mobile phone: 27% slower
  • Texting: 37% slower
  • Speaking on a handheld mobile phone: 46% slower!

Department for Transport statistics show that 33 deaths were attributed to drivers using mobile phones in 2018. Please use your in-drive entertainment sensibly, ensure it’s hands free, and don’t adjust any handheld device unless you’re safely parked with your engine switched off. 

Are there other forms of tech that have changed your quality of life as a longhaul driver? Get in touch and let me know!

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine