FMCSA to study driver interactions with autonomous tech

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, June 27, 2023:

FMCSA looks to study driver interactions with autonomous trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is starting the process to launch a driver simulator study to evaluate how truck drivers engage with rigs equipped with different levels of autonomous technology.

The agency plans to submit a request to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for the study titled “Human Factors Considerations in Commercial Motor Vehicle Automated Driving Systems [ADS] and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems [ADAS].”

The driving simulator would include a series of questionnaires to evaluate approximately 100 drivers and how they interact with trucks equipped with SAE International Level 2 ADAS and Level 3 ADS. The study would examine the effect of non-driving secondary task engagement, transfer of control, and training on driver behavior in trucks equipped with the systems, FMCSA said.

The agency noted that “higher levels of ADAS and lower levels of ADS present an environment that is ripe for overreliance.”

[Related: Double down on the fight against safety complacency]

A Level 2 vehicle “offers longitudinal and lateral support to the driver; however, the driver is still responsible for driving at all times,” FMCSA said, adding that “at this level, engaging in non-driving secondary tasks can be highly detrimental to driving performance as the driver may not recognize and respond to hazards timely or appropriately.”

In a truck equipped with Level 3 ADS, “the role of distraction is blurred. L3 is the lowest level considered to be ADS,” the agency said. “The driver takes on a more supervisory role and is in full control of the vehicle in a limited number of situations. When an L3 vehicle alerts the driver that a takeover is required, the driver needs to have situational awareness to resume full control of the vehicle. Engagement in non-driving secondary tasks may prevent the driver from maintaining situational awareness of the driving environment.”

FMCSA said the three primary goals for the data collection are:

  • Determine the effect of distraction on CMV drivers of Level 2 vehicles
  • Determine the effect of transfer of control on CMV drivers in Level 3 vehicles
  • Develop and evaluate a training program that is designed to decrease the levels of distraction that were identified in CMV drivers in Level 2 vehicles and designed to improve the problems with the transfer of control that were identified in Level 3 vehicles
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[Related: Calif. bill requiring drivers in autonomous trucks advances]

Anti-speed-limiter bill picks up more support

Legislation was introduced in the U.S. House last month that would block the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from implementing a speed limiter mandate on trucks, as reported previously. The Deregulating Restrictions on Interstate Vehicles and Eighteen-Wheelers (DRIVE) Act debuted in May with five co-sponsors, all Republicans. It has since picked up 14 more co-sponsors – also all Republicans – for 19 total.

The bill received initial support from a number of groups, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; Western States Trucking Association; CDL Drivers Unlimited, American Farm Bureau Federation; Livestock Marketing Association; National Association of Small Trucking Companies; and National Cattleman’s Beef Association.

The American Trucking Associations is opposed to the legislation, along with a coalition of safety groups that includes Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (Truck Safety Coalition), Institute for Safer Trucking, National Safety Council, Parents Against Tired Truckers (Truck Safety Coalition), Road to Zero, the Trucking Alliance group of large carriers, and Road Safe America.

[Related: In favor of speed limiters: One owner-op's economic, safety case]

Love’s opening truck washes

Love's Truck WashLove's has opened truck washes at two locations with plans to open two more in the near future, and several more in the coming years.Love's Travel StopsTo further enhance its offerings, Love’s Travel Stops has announced plans to offer truck wash services at select travel stops and Speedco locations.

With a combination of speed, high quality and cost effectiveness, Love’s Truck Washes are equipped with automated technology and are expected to provide the same quality as a hand wash but in half the time of other truck washes in the industry, the company said. 

Locations are now open in Harrisonville, Missouri, and Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, and Love’s anticipates opening additional truck washes soon in Hazen, Arkansas, and Prescott, Arkansas, along with several more in the next two years. 

“Love’s was founded on innovation and thinking differently, so starting this new service is an exciting initiative that gets customers back on the road quickly,” said Shane Wharton, president of Love’s. “We listened to our customers on this new offer. The convenience of being able to fuel, wash their truck, park and go inside all in one location is convenient and ideal for our professional drivers, as well as our RV customers.”

The process starts with the driver pulling up to the designated truck wash bay, selecting their service and pulling the vehicle into the bay. The driver parks and remains in the vehicle, and the automatic three-brush rollover system starts the process of high-pressure washing. The system moves over the vehicle using strategically placed sensors, pressure-washing sprayers and rotary brushes. Love’s attendants oversee each wash to ensure high-quality wash performance.

Services and prices vary based on equipment type and include options for a standard tractor-trailer, box truck, tractor, RV/motor home, pickup with travel trailer or 1-ton truck. A complete list of services, prices and add-on packages is available here. Truck drivers can earn and spend My Love Rewards points at all truck wash locations. 

[Related: Sundown at the truck wash. Pay the tolls already!]

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