Let’s take back control

One of our Team T&D contributors argues that sophisticated modern truck technology is less safe than a driver’s own human instincts and professional judgement

RUSSELL OLIVER
Truck driver &
Team T&D contributor

As time passes, the world progresses – but is progression always a good thing for humanity? A topic I’m interested in is how old meets new; for example, are ‘innovative’ safety features on new trucks safe for the drivers or are they, in fact, a danger?
In terms of people per square mile, our country has a huge population. To put this into perspective, Australia has a land mass eight times that of the UK and has about 28 million people, whereas the UK’s population is approximately 62 million.
All these people need housing, feeding, clothing and so on, and this is a big factor in the driver shortage. As a result, the truck manufacturers are adapting trucks and supposedly making them better to drive – but does that make them safer?

Downright dangerous?
Automatic braking systems, lane guidance, adaptive cruise control… are such safety features helpful or downright dangerous? I’m out on the road for weeks at a time and all I see is smash after smash of trucks hitting each other up the rear. I’m no accident investigation officer but I strongly believe these so-called safety features contribute to accidents.
Why do we need such features when our own in-built safety features are the best in the world? One is called eyesight, the others are brains and common sense. Braking systems only work as far as the vehicle in front, whereas the eyes, brain and common sense all work with a much greater range. And do we really need a sensor to tell us we are not in our lane? I think our eyes and mirrors already do this better, without us taking our eyes off the road and looking at the dash to see why it’s beeping.

Technology takes over
The trouble is, too many people are becoming reliant on these features. Let me explain. You’re in the cab driving and you have the safety features on, along with the heated seats and
climate control. The satnav is directing you and the radio is playing your favourite music, so you start ‘switching off’, as you feel safe. The truck itself is telling you to slow up or increase speed; the cruise control is set with hill speed, so is braking for you; the lane guidance system tells you you’re drifting over. Then, in a split-second, it all comes to a stop and before you can rise out of your relaxed state you’ve stuffed it up the arse of the vehicle in front.
Now, let’s go old-school and turn all these features off. We are driving along and we are concentrating more; we’re keeping our safe distance from the vehicle in front without looking at the dash; we are keeping it in a straight line and our eyes are scanning the horizon, looking way ahead, reading the road and being ready for anything further than the vehicle in front. So when things go wrong, you’re prepared – you’re switched on and ready to deal with any problem in a split-second.
In my opinion, I don’t think you will ever beat eyesight, common sense and brains when it comes to driving, so stop building trucks for any Tom, Dick, and Harry to drive and start teaching any Tom, Dick and Harry how to become a proper truck driver. Or am I a dinosaur who needs to keep pace with the rapidly changing modern world?

I don’t think you will ever beat eyesight, common sense and brains when it comes to driving

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