Spread across seven million operative freight trucks, as much as $19 billion in annual domestic trade is shouldered by a neglected and shrinking community of truck drivers. A sizable portion of the Indian economy hinges on reliable access to goods ranging from food and medicines to household and luxury items. Considering that entire supply chains and their expanding ambitions continue to rely solely on drivers – what can vehicle manufacturers and transporters do to ensure a safer and better quality of life for the unsung heroes of India’s logistics backbone?
1. Axle load indicator system
Truck drivers endanger their own lives and thousands of other lives when transporting overloaded cargo – a common delinquency on Indian roads. The risk of an accident of irreparable damage is exponentially increased when the cargo includes hazardous substances that rank as flammable, explosive or highly toxic to human life. As always, the driver alone is responsible to carry the load cautiously.
this 2004 Ford F650 are truck scales or weight gauges that employ pressure sensors installed in the truck’s bellows to measure the current stress applied to each axle. These values are communicated to a centralized control unit that computes shifting axle loads and displays real-time figures on a digital driver display screen.
Axle load indicator systems can also be fitted to include multiple alarm systems that monitor critical weight conditions to alert both the driver and remote stakeholders, such as consignors or fleet operations, about impending risk. Some indicators are embedded with air bag suspension systems that measure axle loads in proportion to air pressure – an inexpensive and durable method of accurately informing the driver about shifting axle pressure and consequent vehicle conditions.
2. Air suspension seating system
Indian truck drivers can spend as much as fifteen hours a day seated within the narrow quarters of their vehicle and, effectively, their second home. Air suspension systems employ technology and decades of ergonomic design studies to manifest scientifically sound seating that is proven to reduce driver fatigue, limit joint and back pain and ensure quicker recovery from long haul trips. The seats, fitted with electromagnetic motors at their base, absorb shock values affected by uneven terrain, ensuring steadiness to lower discomfort and increase steering control.
According to a study conducted by BoseRide, 94% of surveyed drivers reported reduced fatigue and 80% acknowledged that improved driving conditions could prolong their careers. Air suspension seating could also be fitted with numerous adjustment controls to set driver posture according to smooth, moderately uneven and highly rough road conditions. The settings improve driver concentration, limiting vibrations to maintain steady exterior and rear view assessments when travelling through inhospitable terrain or weather.
3. Panoramic views and blind spot assistance
A chief safety issue limiting Indian truck drivers is their inability to accurately evaluate the immediate environment due to limiting window frames or ineffective rear view mirrors that often blind them to smaller vehicles, children or animals in their proximity. Larger front windows, extending around the truck’s side bend that extend into the transparent floor to ceiling doors could give the driver as much as 50% more visibility of the vehicle’s forward facing area. Additionally, rear view mirrors fitted with sensors can easily detect nearby obstacles to blink red or alert the driver via a central display screen of blind-spot dangers.
A virtual panoramic view can also be implemented using rear and side positioned cameras. India’s single lane roads make overtaking especially tricky for bulky vehicles. Speeding up to outpace the vehicle ahead without sufficient view of the road and the driver’s blind-spots could prove lethal not only to the driver but scores of passengers in proximate vehicles.
In 2015, Samsung undertook an exemplary freight truck upgrade to facilitate panoramic visibility. When the company learned that Argentina suffered a high rate of fatal accidents caused by misinformed overtaking attempts on single lane roads, they fitted freight trucks with a wireless forward facing camera that projected real time views of the road ahead on four outdoor monitors framed across the back of the truck. Every vehicle behind the bulky truck could now easily gauge oncoming traffic to safely overtake the imposing vehicle.
4. Adjustable power steering wheels
If you live in India, you have probably seen a freight truck cornered at an uncomfortable angle at a narrow, congested intersection – halfway through a turn, unable to reverse or move forward – as traffic serpentines around its head locked body. The truck driver, assisted by cues from a few impatient civilians, will circle the steering wheel incessantly, struggling against its unforgiving resilience to finally shift the vehicle’s heavy wheels and escape the chokehold. This common man versus 10-wheeler battle occurs because many Indian freight trucks are still fitted with outdated mechanical steering wheels.
Hydraulic or electric steering wheels compose the family of power steering systems. Using hydraulic or electric impulses to augment steering, the system significantly decreases human labor required to achieve the same results. The steering wheel may be further upgraded to include a column of multi-functional options, including buttons to instigate speed limiters, cruise control and audio players. Each function may be synchronized to appear on a display screen. These features ensure drivers never have to take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road.