Adam Ritzinger is well regarded in the heavy vehicle industry for his continual focus on safety across research, consulting, product design and engineering management. He has worked at the Australian Road Research Board, the German Federal Highway Research Agency, Advantia Transport Consulting and equipment manufacturer SAF-Holland. Adam is now the Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Systems Manager at Toll, working within Toll’s Road Transport Safety and Compliance unit.
PM: Your roles over the years have always pointed strongly towards road safety in the heavy vehicle industry. Why does this sector interest you?
AR: I was fascinated by machines at a young age and always knew that I would pursue an engineering career. Road safety is another topic that I’m very passionate about. Over the years I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been able to apply my engineering expertise to deliver positive road safety outcomes through research, policy, and product design, which is an incredibly fulfilling space to work in. When given the opportunity to work in Toll’s Road Transport Safety and Compliance Unit, I was excited not only because Toll is the largest supplier of transport and logistics services in the Asia-Pacific region, but also because Toll’s approach to safety is perfectly aligned with my own. At Toll, we believe everyone has the right to return home safely and we are working towards creating a workplace free of incidents and injuries. Toll developed an HSE strategy which is called ‘Safety Obsessed’, a concept that underpins everything that Toll does.
PM: What are some of the ‘Safety Obsessed’ initiatives?
AR: The key focus areas are developing a safety-first mindset, the introduction of a new Toll Reporting and Compliance system (TRAC), and investment in safety technologies in our fleet. The first area is really about fostering the ‘safety obsessed’ culture in our employees. We are engaging all staff across Toll, encouraging them to speak up, reach out and actively care for each other, and are supporting this by running hundreds of face-to-face ‘Incident and Injury Free’ workshops in every location Toll operates. The TRAC system has been rolled-out to over 25,000 staff, and will enable greater integration between HSE technology, culture and management, leading to enhanced HSE practices globally. But given my technical background, I have a specific interest in the fleet safety technologies. Toll is investing $1.6 Billion in its fleet, and, as a result, all new Toll vehicles are fitted with telematics, and all new linehaul, remote area and dangerous goods vehicles are equipped with Driver State Sensing (DSS) technology to manage fatigue risk.
PM: How has safety technology become part of Toll’s vehicle specifications?
AR: Toll’s current standard spec is the highest level of safety equipment offered by the manufacturer. This covers a range of active and passive safety technologies, which all play their own role. In addition to telematics and DSS, Toll’s spec also includes the latest EBS braking and rollover protection systems, active cruise control, lane assist, and side underrun protection. We are also fitting vehicles with cameras to capture what happens on the road to assist with incident analysis.
PM: What recent technology has been game-changing?
AR: One of our big wins is DSS technology. Our systems comprise in-cabin cameras that use software to detect fatigue and distraction events in drivers. I’ve witnessed the results first-hand of how it delivers positive safety outcomes on many different levels. We pick up events in real time and work with the drivers to ensure their welfare, and we can also use the findings as a coaching tool later on. One particularly positive recent story involved a driver who had a couple of fatigue events that were picked up by the system. He was tested by a doctor and was diagnosed with sleep apnoea, which he was completely unaware that he had. As a result, he now has a portable CPAP machine that he takes with him, and he says he feels 20 years younger.
PM: What’s coming up on the radar in the safety technology space?
AR: There has been a lot of discussion around Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), given the recent Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) which seeks to mandate it for some classes of truck by 2020. Even though it’s a relatively new technology, we’ve had AEB on a number of trucks and our experience has been overwhelmingly positive. We completely support the proposal to mandate AEB on new trucks and we don’t think it should be delayed any further. The question I ask is, given that it was mandated in other countries six years ago, why have Australian regulators waited so long?
PM: Does it seem that it is the industry itself leading the change for improvements in safety?
AR: Regrettably, for a lot of the transport industry the take-up isn’t there. I think we’ve seen that clearly with AEB despite it being available on many truck models for some time. I read in the RIS that the take-up sits at around six per cent of the fleet, which is pretty low. Our own fleet would be much higher because of our approach to fleet specifications, but in terms of our role in advocating and encouraging safety technologies there is only so much we can achieve. We’ll push as hard as we can, but until it’s written into the law and mandated it’s unlikely to be widespread.
PM: Are there any metrics to measure the influence of the technologies?
AR: We’ve seen an incredible improvement in key safety metrics in recent times as a result of our safety initiatives, which have included rolling-out key safety technologies. Looking at Toll employees alone (i.e. excluding subcontractors), across 2010-11 there was one fatality per 29 million kilometres, but by 2015-16 that had reduced significantly to one fatality per 116 million kilometres. That’s a massive factor of improvement, so we understand clearly that the changes are having a real impact.
PM: What’s the approach to Electronic Work Diaries?
AR: We think this is a really important next step and we’ve supported mandatory telematics and work diaries over the years. Again, many overseas jurisdictions have made them mandatory, so I ask the question, why haven’t we done so in Australia? The technology is available now, we’ve got many examples in our fleets and we are definitely seeing benefits in terms of safety and compliance.
PM: What’s your key message around safety technology for trucks?
AR: Be safety obsessed. Do not hesitate in fitting safety technologies to your fleet. Why wait for them to be mandated? Why wait for the regulations to catch up with the industry? If a safety technology is available now, it can, and should be fitted. I wholeheartedly encourage the widespread adoption of road safety technologies. Toll welcomes the opportunity to continue to take on an advocacy and encouragement role and share our experience.
With an overarching view to maximising safety for its drivers, clients and the general public, the Glen Cameron Group has specified SAF-Holland G36 fifth-wheels with RECOSS integrated dashboard display status alert on a batch of new Volvo prime movers. Longer release handles requiring significantly reduced pull effort and one-handed operation are big drawcards.