Friday, October 28, 2016

Let’s talk about cellphone distractions

What is the problem with cellphones and driving? Is it talking on them or everything else? I think it’s the latter, but a recent survey tells a different story.

According to a recent survey conducted for Canadian Automobile Association South Central Ontario, nearly 1 in 3 Ontarians (32 percent) admit to distracted driving as a result of a mobile device. I suppose the key word here is “admit.”

I’m skeptical of this survey because of the top 10 reasons for distracted driving by mobile device: 
  1. Someone has called (44 percent)
  2. Emergency purposes (33 percent)
  3. Have to get in touch with someone I am meeting (27 percent)
  4. Someone has texted (26 percent)
  5. Have to talk to spouse (21 percent)
  6. Have to talk to parents (17 percent)
  7. Able to multitask (15 percent)
  8. Use for work (11 percent)
  9. Bored at red light (11 percent)
  10. Have to talk to children (9 percent) 
Half of these explicitly involve voice calls. Where are the apps? And check out #1 and #4. Someone else called/texted them, absolving them of blame. Emergency purposes? Able to multitask? Bored at red light? What do those even mean?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

True or false? Truckers with a BMI of 40 or above are off the road

Information travels fast these days.

As soon as a story is published and posted on social media websites, it can quickly be shared to the segment of the population that wants or needs that information. In moments, thousands of people have easy access to the story.

This can be a wonderful thing, of course. The increase in speed can give drivers extra warning about such things as inclement weather or road closures. It also can spread word to be on the lookout for criminal activity or a missing person.

The problem, however, is that misinformation spreads just as fast. In some cases, it may travel even faster. If the story (true or false) affects a lot of people, it won’t take long for it to end up in your news feed.

For example, it has been reported that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Medical Review Board and Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee voted to approve obstructive sleep apnea recommendations that would require medical examiners to immediately disqualify truck drivers with a body mass index of 40 or more.

Before you panic and pass that information on to five of your friends, realize that it simply isn’t true.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What’s next, self-delivering pretzels?

Raise the flag, break out the yogurt, and call the hogs home. It has happened – the very first commercial delivery by an autonomous truck.

The big day was Thursday, Oct. 20. The load was canned Budweiser beer on pallets from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs in Colorado, about 120 miles on Interstate 25. The truck was a Volvo modified by Otto to drive itself. Otto is not the German baker down the block. It’s a San Francisco technology startup recently acquired by Uber.

Manufacturers like Daimler and Volvo have demonstrated autonomous trucks and plan to bring them to market in the next few years. Otto isn’t waiting. They’re developing kits that can make many standard Class 8 tractors – like that Volvo – autonomous now.

No, the Otto Volvo did not drive dock-to-dock on its own. A human driver steered it onto I-25 in Fort Collins and took over again in Colorado Springs. On the interstate, the Volvo drove itself with the driver still aboard. It was not a technological landmark moment. We already know this stuff works.

But in terms of marketing, Otto pulled off a huge publicity coup in the logistics and tech media to position itself out in front of the big truck makers.

Check out the snazzy video about the beer trip.

Monday, October 24, 2016

After accident, trucker looked to help others

Hours after a tour bus accident that killed at least 13 people, it was apparent the driver of the big rig that was struck from behind remained in shock.

“I’m blessed to be alive, and I pray for the families that didn’t make it,” the truck driver said in a cellphone video obtained by CBS News that was taken after he was released from the hospital on Sunday, Oct. 23.

According to multiple reports, a tour bus returning from a casino crashed into a semi-truck on 10 Freeway near Palm Springs, Calif. Thirteen people were killed in the accident, and 31 others were injured.

The truck driver, who identified himself as “Bruce,” in video captured by cab driver David Hirschfield during his ride from the hospital to a Palm Springs hotel, said the accident occurred without warning.