Executive Summary

Highway safety and commercial vehicle operations are essential ingredients of a thriving national economy, yet the sheer magnitude of vehicle traffic volume and the explosive growth in the trucking industry has lead to a pressing issue now facing transportation decision-makers. At issue is the growing number of severe crashes involving large trucks. Unlike other vehicle types, commercial vehicles use many safety- and productivity-enhancing systems already and, therefore, are well suited for early Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) deployments. Unfortunately, large trucks continue to be involved in a disproportionately large number of severe crashes.

In concert with the issue of safety, is productivity. For the trucking industry, productivity is the difference between economic survival and bankruptcy with little margin (profit margin) for error. This is true for large and small carriers, long haul, regional and local carriers, and even haulers of construction materials (i.e., paving materials). Every year this paradigm becomes truer as new methods and improved technology come to market and as competition for loads among carriers becomes more acute.

There are self-regulating mechanisms in the march to higher safety and productivity. Liability risk and insurance rates force trucking companies to keep accident rates low. However, there is increased risk that introduction of new technology and the rate of acceptance of that technology can lead to driver overload.

It is the vision of the National Intelligent Truck Consortium (NITC) that one common, open-architecture nexus is needed. This nexus not only becomes the arbiter of information presentation of the driver, but also provides the commonality of presentation format that we take for granted in the analog instrumentation of today's vehicle. This nexus (an intelligent driver interface) which lies at the core of this network becomes the key integration element since it connects the driver, the vehicle diagnostic network, the ITS safety systems, and the wireless data system that links the vehicle with the outside world. The presentation of important information to the driver in a timely, but safe fashion, is key to the successful integration of existing and proposed intelligent transportation systems into the commercial vehicle.

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Last Updated July 09, 1999