Every once in a while thoughts merge and a theory comes out of them. There is a sign just outside of the Anheuser Busch Brewery in St. Louis. In big bold print are the number 15 and 7. It smaller pring it says basically to be watching and thinking out 15 seconds. Then it says to maintain a 7 second following distance. It is part of the system that I learned when I started driving.

Over the years I have spoken to many companies and drivers about collision mitigation systems. The first system that I had was a Meritor On Guard System. It was good. It took me about a month to learn how to work with it. I hated it at first. I asked to have it removed. They told me NO! After all, part of my job is to figure out how to make things work.I started thinking. The system only thinks out 3.5 seconds ahead. All that I had to do was out anticipate the system. 

My new Cascadia is equipped with the Detroit Asuurance system. Technolgy moves forward and the system is more advanced. It can be adjusted between 3.6 seconds and 2.5 seconds before interactions. I choose to leave it at 3.6 seconds. It does interact differently than my first system. Some of it is because the technology has advanced. 

That brings me to the phrase that I find myself using more and more. "DRIVING EFFICIENTLY IS ABOUT MANAGING MOMENTUM." The better you manage the momentum of the truck the less fuel you will use. Every maintenance manager that I have spoke with agrees that the drivers who get the best fuel mileage generally have the lowest maintenance costs. 

I found myself talking to a management group. Some of their drivers were complaining about their collison management system. I believe in the systems and find myself to be a bit of a CMS whsiperer. Trucks equipped with CMS are less like to be involved in a rear end collision. They save lives. Driver frustration with the systems is understandable. It is also avoidable. Drivers should be respected and taught how the systems work. Drivers can be taught what the systems react to. Basically the systems never brake for no reason, but they can brake for unnecessary reasons. Once the driver understands how the system works and what it brakes for it comes down to anticipation.

That bring me back to that 15/7 sign. It is old school. The technology is new. Use the old school thinking and the new technology is easier to deal with. Combine the two and you have fewer accidents, better fuel mileage and lower maintenance costs. That leads to a safer more profitable operation.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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