Across North America, at every hour and over every mile of road, commercial vehicle drivers keep things moving with a focus on safety. In support of the goals of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC (Bendix) salutes everyone behind the wheel and strives to provide them with the equipment and information that help put them in the position to perform at their best.
On the calendar this year for July 9-15, Operation Safe Driver Week is a safe-driving awareness and outreach initiative aimed at improving the driving behaviors of passenger vehicle drivers and commercial motor vehicle drivers. CVSA works with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) during the week to promote traffic law and safety belt enforcement, operating safely around commercial vehicles, roadside inspections, regulatory compliance, and commercial driver education.
“Nothing you can put on a truck today – no component, no software, no technology – will be as important to that vehicle’s safe operation as having a skilled and alert professional driver in control of it,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director of Government and Industry Affairs. “And that’s why we continuously aim to develop systems and tools to help North America’s millions of drivers do their jobs even more safely and effectively, contributing to safer roads for everyone.”
Helping Drivers Stay at Their Best
Even the best driver on the road can use an assist from time to time. Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety and braking technologies for commercial vehicles, delivers systems that can help drivers recognize a potential collision and take action to help them mitigate a crash or potentially lessen its severity.
“The FMCSA’s Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts data is a regular reminder of what’s at stake,” Andersky said. “The most recent report showed that there were 327,000 trucks involved in property-damage-only crashes in 2020; 107,000 trucks involved in injury crashes; and 4,842 involved in fatal crashes.”
Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ – the company’s flagship advanced driver assistance system – integrates information from its forward-facing radar, video, and the Bendix® ESP® braking system, combining and cross-checking the data from sensors that work together and not just in parallel. By creating a more detailed and more accurate picture from this information, Fusion delivers autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, along with following distance alerts, lane departure warnings, and alerts when speeding – all while prioritizing alerts to help reduce driver distraction. Severe event-based data – including video – can be wirelessly transmitted and is accessible via SafetyDirect® by Bendix CVS for driver coaching and analysis by fleet safety personnel.
“These are absolutely not driver replacement systems,” emphasized TJ Thomas, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, Controls. “Also, in recent years, we’ve heard from several customer fleets about the significant reduction in rear-end collisions they’ve achieved when they pair Wingman Fusion with proper driver training programs. And in collisions that did occur, they’ve seen decreased severity.”
Other Wingman Fusion capabilities include multi-lane autonomous emergency braking, highway departure warning and braking, and advanced adaptive cruise control features to improve driver convenience. Fusion’s forward-facing camera also enables the system to read roadside speed limit signs and provide Overspeed Alert and Action. Speeding is a key area of enforcement focus during Operation Safe Driver Week.
Because it is built on the foundational technology of the Bendix® ESP® Electronic Stability Program full-stability system, Wingman Fusion can assist drivers in potentially mitigating conditions that could lead to rollover and loss of control.
Driver Education: A Supporting Pillar of Safety
Systems like electronic stability control are required by U.S. law, and truck manufacturers are increasingly including collision mitigation as standard equipment. Knowing this, Bendix works to focus on supporting driver skills across the industry, sharing insights and information on how leading-edge safety technologies function in the real world, as well as what they can and can’t do.
According to Thomas, “It’s important to emphasize that all systems, including Bendix® ESP® full stability and Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™, have limitations. From a driver’s point of view, it is especially important to be familiar with what a safety system is capable of doing and what conditions may limit its operation.”
The online platform SafetyDirect® by Bendix CVS supports driver safety by providing fleet operators with comprehensive driver feedback, including videos of triggered severe events. SafetyDirect delivers key insights into common driving behaviors and trends across a fleet’s operation, enabling the fleet to better develop specific, customized driver support and training programs.
“It’s so important that drivers fully understand their vehicle, which is why we try to host as many on-site demonstrations and ride-and-drive education sessions as possible, all across the country,” Andersky said. “We’ve also produced videos and podcasts that further explain how to correctly use these safety systems to their maximum benefit.” Fleets and drivers can find videos documenting in-cab experiences using various North American manufacturer models at Bendix’s YouTube channel, and the “Truck Talk with Bendix” podcast includes a special “Driver Insight Series” collection.
Bendix safety technologies complement safe driving practices. No commercial vehicle safety technology replaces a skilled, alert driver exercising safe driving techniques and proactive, comprehensive driver training. Responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle remains with the driver at all times. Likewise, fleets are responsible for driver and technician training; Bendix’s role is to support a fleet’s driver training programs by providing supplemental information and education upon request.
Drivers Depend on Wheel-Ends
The equipment at a truck’s wheel-ends – brakes, slack adjusters, and friction – is crucial to deliver driver comfort and confidence in ensuring that the vehicle and its higher-level safety systems will perform as expected. Bendix wheel-end technologies that help drivers keep roads safe include the industry-leading Bendix® ADB22X® air disc brake and the Bendix® ADB22X®-LT trailer air disc brake, the Bendix® ES™ (Extended Service) family of light and durable foundation drum brakes, the Bendix® Versajust® slack adjuster, and Bendix® EnduraSure® spring brakes.
Bendix has produced more than 5 million ADB22X® units since launching the brake in 2005, and worldwide, Bendix and its parent organization Knorr-Bremse are the clear global leaders in air disc brake production at more than 50 million and counting.
“No driver has ever said they could use less stopping power or more unreliable components,” said Mark Holley, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, WheelEnd. “What they need are air disc and drum brakes that deliver peak performance at every application, slack adjusters that keep brakes from dragging, friction that lasts, and spring brakes they can count on. And that’s what Bendix has supplied for decades.”
Knowledge in the Garage Supports Drivers on the Road
Informed technicians lead to safer trucks, and regular maintenance helps keep drivers rolling safely.
“Our long-running Brake Training School is well-known for its thorough in-person and hands-on sessions,” Andersky said. “Every year, we schedule classes all across the country, and for 2023 we’ve also added virtual options in different time zones.” Bendix also directly offers on-site maintenance demonstrations, detailed system explorations, and additional education that covers troubleshooting and system maintenance.
The free Bendix On-Line Brake School provides more than 100 maintenance courses and tests for sharpening technical skills 24/7/365. More than 100,000 users have registered at the site, where students can access a Bendix-developed curriculum covering the full spectrum of braking and active vehicle safety system product topics. Bendix can also create custom education plans for fleets and industry organizations.
The “Truck Talk with Bendix” podcast is available via Google Play, Apple Podcasts®, and Stitcher. It’s also found on Bendix’s Knowledge Dock™, which hosts regularly updated videos, white papers, and blog posts addressing maintenance and other critical topics.
Bendix supports the safety of North America’s professional truck drivers through its evergrowing portfolio of commercial vehicle technologies, delivering performance and efficiency to fleets and owner-operators alike. Along with unparalleled post-sales support, Bendix helps enhance safety and lower total costs of vehicle ownership by strengthening return on investment in safety equipment and technologies.