Interview: Improving ROAD SAFETY

Improving ROAD SAFETY by better managing vehicle speed has never been so important!

Tune in below to E36 (22:10) of RoadSigns Podcast :”How can Fleets get a better handle on Speeding?” hosted by Seth Clevenger from Transport Topics to listen to E-SMART President & CEO Mathieu Boivin discuss how E-SMART active speed management technology significantly improves fleet safety and efficiency.

Listen here

Or read the full interview transcript below:

Seth Clevenger: We’re here in Atlanta at the TMC 2020 annual meeting. And I’m pleased to welcome Mathieu Boivin, CEO of Transtex and E-Smart. Back to RoadSigns. Thanks for joining us.

Mathieu Boivin: Thanks for having me.

Seth Clevenger: So when we spoke on this podcast a year ago, we discussed the latest advances in trailer aerodynamics, but this time to talk about a very different topic, and that’s driver safety.

One very important factor in safely operating a vehicle of any kind is speed. And, you know, lots of fleets, of course, use speed governors to cap the maximum speed of their trucks. But of course, the appropriate speed varies based on the location and the posted speed limit. And E-Smart has an interesting approach to this. You know, your system provides intelligent speed adaptation by using GPS to actively manage the maximum speed based on the truck’s location. So just tell us a little bit more about how that works and why you think it’s important to go beyond the basic speed, and have a more adaptive, intelligent approach to speed management.

Mathieu Boivin: So we’re very proud of the success of E-Smart, so hard works. Using GPS technology will limit the speed of the truck per speed zone. So compared to basic governors where you only limit the truck at the top speed, 60, 65 or 70, E-Smart allows the vehicle not to exceed lower speed limits. So it’s an active speed limiter. We do this at all speed zones. So a new also limit the speed in a risk area and danger zone.

Seth Clevenger: Let’s say just how much of a difference can speed management make for overall fleet safety? You know, in terms of preventing the frequency and severity of crashes, know, of course, we think about speeding tickets. But how much of a difference does this really make in practice for safety?

Mathieu Boivin: So there’s multiple studies that clearly say that actively manage and the speed increase, increase the safety. So, you know, according to DOT, 30% of all accidents are speed related and 70% of the fatal crash accidents happens on non-interstates, highway or roads. So managing the speed at lower speed makes a big difference. You know, the stats in mind, we design a solution on being active rather than being passive. And what’s makes all the difference in, let’s say, the performance of improving the safety record of the fleet.

Seth Clevenger: Sure. And your speed is also an important factor in fuel efficiency. So do you have fully customers that are using the product not only to improve safety, but also to reduce fuel consumption?

Mathieu Boivin: Yes. Even if your focus is on safety, we do have a feature called Low Base Power Management. That feature allows fleet to save fuel. We reduce the power of the truck depending on the load it’s carrying. We have a sensor on the fifth wheel of the truck. This enables the truck to save fuel when they have less load.

Seth Clevenger: Another hot topic in the transportation industry is insurance costs. I mean, insurance for motor carriers has been on the rise. How much potential do you see for this type of technology to help fleets lower the premiums?

Mathieu Boivin: Absolutely. We’ve been contacted by some insurance company to for them to see if our data set is good enough for them to see if there is an evolution or improvement in the safety record of a fleet. So we are in the process. Definitely this will result in lower premium for fleets.

Seth Clevenger: And of course, if you’re going to deploy onboard technology, it is important for the drivers to accept it. So how do drivers react to technology like this that limits their top speed? And, you know, what can fleets do to make that case to their drivers? This helps them be safer, prevents crashes and is something that they should be supportive of.

Mathieu Boivin: Yeah, it’s very important and it’s a priority for Transtex to have the onboarding of the driver. Driver is very important. You don’t want a driver that is against that technology. So a lot of fleets have you know, we do training and have trade in reality, a little bit of more leeway on high speed for more control and lower speed. And driver looks very happy about this. They can, you know, attain a long distance, get better time on long distance while being safer on lower speed limits.

Seth Clevenger: Let’s also talk about some of the newer features you’re adding to E-Smart you know, you’re looking at things like weather and traffic conditions, construction zone, school zones, mapping of high risk speeding zones. Just tell us a little bit more about how that’s going to evolve.

Mathieu Boivin: E-Smart is always innovating and working with our customer. We come with the base platform technology and then customer asking us for features which answer better their needs. Some of them want alerts on a truck stop on the highway, a very specific geofencing for improving their safety. As you know, we limit speed differently, cheaper states in the States and the U.S. So this is all feature that we usually worked on with our customers. What’s coming now is we’re working with yields telematics so that we have a driver identification, when the driver logs on the ELD so we can now push to the truck per driver configurations. Also, we send voice message to the driver. If there’s no dangerous incidents or so that we need to connect with a driver, we can communicate with the ELD and send voice commands.

Seth Clevenger: OK. And, you know, we’ve also added low-bridge collision prevention to the platform. And of course, nobody wants to be the next driver to wind up on a viral YouTube video or something on Twitter that shows a truck striking a low overpass. So tell us how that low-bridge collision prevention feature works.

Mathieu Boivin: So low-bridge collision prevention is a feature that is active in a lot of our fleet. There’s about 4,000 low bridges in the northeast of the USA and trucks hit them often. So what we do is 750 feet before hitting the bridge. We will reduce the speed of the truck to 1 mph so we never apply brakes. But the truck will close down 1 mph hour and an alert will inform the fleet manager that one of his trucks is in the alert position. So the manager will remotely reactivate the truck to get it out of that difficult position.

Seth Clevenger: Yeah, and they can certainly, you know, save a, you know, a big, costly accident and obviously some bad press and bad attention on the company.

Mathieu Boivin: There’s a big, big ROI on that.

Seth Clevenger: And, you know, E-Smart as an aftermarket product. But I also want to ask you if you’re interested in partnering with truck OEMs, truck manufacturers to potentially have this technology installed at the factory level?

Mathieu Boivin: Absolutely. We want to make it the integrations synchronize. So any partnership that can help customer to achieve that, we’re all for this. So we believe that it will help the OEM to just work together with them, to have eventually factory install.

Seth Clevenger: And what do you think the future holds for intelligent speed management? I mean, do you see the industry moving away from, you know, what we have today with your basic speed governors and moving more and more toward this more dynamic adaptive speed management speed control in the future?

Mathieu Boivin: As we know, autonomous vehicles are coming later than we thought. So that creates a big space where ADAS will have a lot of opportunity. E-Smart is one of them. That definitely will be, I believe, a big one coming. So I believe in the next few years, most of the fleet will have to rely on ASM for their fleet. So we’re very positive on that.

Seth Clevenger: Got it. Well, hey, this has been a great conversation, but I think we’ve reached a good stopping point. Thanks again for joining us, Mathieu.

Mathieu Boivin: Thanks.

Seth Clevenger: Let’s take a moment to revisit our original question. How can fleet managers utilize technology to get a better handle on vehicle speed and improve the safety culture of their companies? As we’ve heard from our guests, speeding is a major factor in the frequency and severity of crashes. So fleets can’t afford to ignore it and to manage vehicle speed. You have to measure it. Speed monitoring can help fleet managers track the safety performance of their drivers and provide additional coaching to the ones who need it most before it’s too late. This information can also enable recognition and performance based bonuses to reward your safest drivers, while at the same time helping them mitigate rising insurance costs. Meanwhile, adaptive speed management provides a way for fleets to take an even more hands on approach by actively limiting vehicle speed based on geography and the posted speed limit at the end of the day. The foundation of a fleet safety culture is built on training company policies and making it clear to drivers and dispatchers that safety is always the No. 1 priority. But speed management technology is a key tool that fleets can use to reinforce that culture and take safety performance to the next level.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode of RoadSigns, please let others know, and review us on Apple podcasts and Spotify. If my questions have sparked questions of your own, share them with me and the RoadSigns team. You can email us at [email protected]. We read them and respond daily. And of course, we’ll be back in two weeks with a fresh episode of RoadSigns.

Until then, I’m Seth Clevenger. Thank you for listening.