Few would disagree that safety is priority number one on any jobsite. Arguably, following just behind it in order of importance is efficiency. Both crews and the machinery they operate must function in the safest, most efficient way possible to ensure the job is finished on time, on budget and without incident or accident.

Today’s truck manufacturers are collectively producing the most technologically advanced vehicles to ever reach the marketplace, and much of the newest technology has been developed with safety and efficiency in mind.

From hands-free, voice-activated communications systems and WiFi connectivity to rear-facing back-up cameras and more intuitive methods of product testing, the modern work truck is the largest, most powerful “smart” device builders and contractors have at their command. Not only that, it is helping make the jobsite—and the drive to it—safer and more efficient.

Hands-Free, Voice-Activated Communication and Navigation Systems
Email, texting, voicemail and apps of all kinds—today’s smartphones offer an array of features for work, many of which are designed to make it easier to stay connected to the world beyond the jobsite. Combine them with mobile WiFi connectivity, available now in many new trucks, and for builders and contractors it can mean instantaneous, uninterrupted communication with the home office, clients, subcontractors or other remote members of the crew.

As important as it is to stay connected, it can also mean a greater chance of distraction for someone operating a vehicle. To help ensure smartphones remain a tool rather than a liability, particularly when vehicles are in motion, many (if not all) automakers offer communication systems designed to help keep a driver’s focus where it needs to be: on the road.

Relying on Bluetooth and voice-activation technology, a properly synched vehicle can function as an extension of a smart device, with calls coming directly through the speaker system and texts being read aloud by computer. In the most advanced systems, a simple, hands-free voice command is all that’s needed to place an outgoing call or receive a text message. While convenient, the true benefit of this technology is that it removes the need to look away from the road or take hands from the wheel in order to scroll through a list of contact names.

Similarly, many of today’s in-vehicle navigation services can be activated by voice. Gone are the days of pulling to the side of the road to manually key in addresses—or worse—attempting the task while still on the road. Also gone is the need to rely on chance to find the nearest amenities. Just as a simple voice command (“Call Tom Smith”) will suffice in placing a call, so too will it work for locating services (“Find the nearest gas station”).

Although the industry’s most advanced communication systems do not generally come standard in all vehicles, it’s a safe bet that in time the technology will become ubiquitous across trim levels. In the meantime, a cost-benefit analysis might show that despite higher upfront costs, these systems will pay for themselves and even save money over the lifespan of the vehicle in terms of worker efficiency and the number of mishaps prevented.

Vehicle Cameras and Parking Sensors
Today’s consumers are far more welcoming of safety innovations than when seatbelts were introduced in the 1950s. As a result, manufacturers are keen to show off how their safety packages compare favorably to all the rest. Mix in stringent government regulations, which auto manufacturers must adhere to, and the result is an environment in which the consumer, the manufacturer and the government have a stake in the continuous evolution of vehicle safety.

For example, by 2018, all new cars and light-duty trucks will be required by law to have rear-facing cameras for safer back-up procedures. Many manufacturers are not waiting for the deadline, recognizing that a demand already exists for this type of technology. Builders and contractors will find back-up and even cargo cameras in many of the newest trucks. If cameras are not present, many trucks, including chassis cabs, will be prewired for easy aftermarket camera installation.

From a safety perspective, innovations like on-vehicle cameras and front and rear parking sensors (also found on many new trucks) have the potential to reduce pedestrian-vehicle incidents while also helping prevent unnecessary damage to property and possessions. As an added bonus, back-up cameras can help drivers become more efficient, especially on the jobsite, where time can be saved in hooking up trailers.

Feedback From the Real World
Digital technology has made it easier and more cost effective for manufacturers to conduct and compile research on and from real drivers. This has proven especially useful in the work truck segment, where drivers tend to push their trucks in ways engineers can’t always predict. The bottom line is that when vehicle manufacturers embrace the latest technology, and also lend a hand in its development, consumers will benefit, especially those who make their living in and with their vehicles.


Dave Sowers is the head of Ram Commercial marketing. For more information, visit ramtrucks.com/en/ram_commercial.