All new technology costs money, and fleet managers are constantly faced with deciding whether to pay for the latest safety systems or hope that their drivers do not get involved in accidents. But now test results are in for a variety of new applications, and the news is good. Typical ROI calculations show break-even in as little as nine months. Even the more conservative analyses deliver payback in less than two years. These numbers mean that the market is poised for significant growth.
“Fleet managers have an advantage over individual operators or consumers because they can deal with average accident costs rather than trying to estimate whether an individual vehicle is likely to be in a crash,” says ABI Research principal analyst David Alexander. “Because the combined cost of the vehicle and its cargo is typically high, avoiding even a small number of accidents in a year will pay to equip an entire fleet with one of the latest active safety systems.”
The key for fleet managers is to decide which of the technology offerings can best deliver the desired results. Are most accidents caused by unintended lane change, leaving the road, rear-ending a slower vehicle in front, or missing an obstacle in the blind spot? Systems are available for blind-spot detection (BSD), lane departure warning (LDW), or adaptive cruise control (ACC)/headway warning.
“Some of the systems are integrated into the vehicle build, which is essential for an application such as ACC that can control the vehicle speed,” says Alexander. “But many of the warning systems are self-contained and can operate in isolation. They are available as a new truck option or in the aftermarket, so the benefits can be extended to existing fleets as well as being rolled out in replacement vehicles.”
The latest systems take advantage of developments in the consumer vehicle and consumer electronics markets, and are bringing some healthy competition. Healthy growth bodes well for companies such as Cognex, Delphi, Eaton, Iteris, Knorr Bremse, Meritor, Mobileye, and Transportation Safety Technologies.