It’s never pleasant to talk about deadly accidents, but of the 36,096 highway fatalities in 2019, nearly 10,000 involved light trucks and vans and nearly 900 involved medium- and heavy-duty trucks, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). (NTSB figures weren’t yet available for 2020, but it’s likely they’d be skewed and uncharacteristically low because fewer vehicles were on the road at the height of the pandemic).

In a utopian scenario, or perfect world, the number of fatalities would be zero. And while that goal is unrealistic in the real world, continued enhancements in collision avoidance/mitigation systems should, at least, help push the number of accidents down.

Within the beverage transportation industry, deadly crashes are, thankfully, a rare occurrence, especially when compared with collisions that don’t result in serious injuries or fatalities. Yet, any kind of crash still can wreak havoc on an operation. And that’s why collision avoidance systems can have almost immediate, tangible effects.

Northern California Anheuser-Busch and Constellation Brands distributor Markstein Sales Co., for instance, was able to reduce at-fault incidents by 83% and save more than $100,000 a year after installing Samsara’s AI Dash Cams. The Dash Cams enable the Samsara system to capture high-definition video and send footage of key incidents to the cloud for review within minutes, providing fleet managers with real-time visibility to protect drivers and the business.

The beverage wholesaler was able to achieve driver buy-in by having the company’s top driver pilot the system and provide initial feedback. After a month, he became the company’s biggest advocate for the system and was able to help build a more durable safety culture across the fleet.

Lytx is another supplier that offers dash-cam-based solutions. The front- and rear-facing cameras offer a 360-degree view, with high-quality video and night vision capabilities. The cloud-connected dash cam system, combined with the Lytx Video Platform, delivers continual video clips to a searchable online dashboard and enables drivers to manually capture video as needed. Managers can find the exact clips they need within minutes, the company says.

Meanwhile, Preco Electronics, which has been developing safety technologies for nearly 75 years, offers fleet safety solutions that actively engage drivers to reduce the possibility of accidents and vehicle downtime, while mitigating potential risks.

The company’s PreView Side Defender II radar protects the blind spots on delivery trucks by alerting a driver when turning or changing lanes if there is an object, vehicle or person in their blind spots. When interfaced with a camera system — like the company’s PreView Plus system or an existing system integrated through the PreView VideoLink — drivers will have access to a comprehensive object-detection system.

In May, Omnitracs announced that it was acquired by Solera Holdings Inc. The company touts its SmartDrive system, which uses an open platform that integrates with other vehicle systems and provides a comprehensive view of risk with actionable intelligence through video and associated vehicle data.

SmartDrive safety experts review and analyze all video incidents, captured and uploaded in real-time. They’re able to assess the sorts of driver behavior that lead to common operational errors. When collisions occur, SmartDrive gives fleet managers and drivers a complete picture of what happened. Not only does it help to determine the cause of the accident, but it’s effective in exonerating drivers when they’re not at fault — which, in turn, reduces a company’s liability.

When moving products from Point A to Point B, truck drivers know that any kind of crash can wreak havoc on beverage distribution. They also recognize that, ultimately, a safe operation is a more profitable operation.