Letter: Technology Overload

This Letter to the Editor appear in the Aug. 3 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today. 

Technology Overload

There is so much written about the benefits of onboard technology, such as the Opinion piece “Maximizing Benefits of Onboard Technology”, that the articles sound like sales pitches for onboard technology manufacturers.

The benefits of onboard technology vary, and they are sometimes a negative. For casual, new or aggressive drivers, gains from onboard technology are more likely to be helpful. But consider the experienced truck-driving professional, using his or her best skills. Look at the cost (upfront and ongoing) of onboard technology, look at the downtime and look at the resources needed to utilize the data — perhaps hiring more people to analyze the data than expected.

What I see as a common motivator in this mindless drive to use as much onboard technology as possible is nondrivers attempting to manage what they do not understand: truck driving. Would these same managers be open to having their own jobs micromanaged? Having recorded and reviewed each step — restroom trips, screen changes on the computer, eye movements in an office full of people?

“If it improves safety” is likely what will be said in reply. That’s easy to say, but even that would likely be “shelved for further study.”

In reality, micromanaging with onboard technology is expensive. It does not create that desired “ideal driver” and can cause driver distractions that actually impair safety.

There must be a reason that micromanaging seems like a good idea only for the “other guy.”

Danny Schnautz

Operations Manager

Clark Freight Lines Inc.

Pasadena, Texas