In-cab antennae tracks drivers’ cell phone activity

Sources: inthinc Technology Solutions Inc., Salt Lake City; CP staff

A new antennae detects cell phone wave frequencies emitted from a truck driver’s seat, verbally warns the user to terminate the call or text, and sends real-time alerts to a web portal or directly to a fleet manager.

The antennae is the latest addition to inthinc’s in-vehicle driver alert, vehicle location and diagnostic technology offerings. It enables fleet managers to enforce compliance with company, state and federal regulations, including Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration measures aimed at curtailing drivers’ non-emergency use of mobile phones while trucks are in gear or positioned in moving-traffic right of way (note NRMCA delineates FMCSA cell phone ban do’s and don’t’s for mixer drivers). Effective January 2012, an FMCSA final rule on truck drivers’ hand-held cell phone use calls for commercial carrier/employer fines up to $11,000 per violation.

“The Department of Transportation has made it clear that the responsibility rests with the carriers and written anti-cell use policies are not sufficient preventive measures,” says inthinc CEO Todd Follmer, adding that the cell and text detector is designed according to specifications recommended by the FMCSA, National Transportation Safety Board, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Integrated with inthinc’s fleet management and driver safety solutions, waySmart and tiwiPro, the new antennae detects cell phone waves emitted from the driver seat, warns drivers and reports violating activity to the management portal. The technology can decipher various wave frequencies including phone calls, text messages and emails. Managers can adjust the settings to either send an in-cab voice alert to drivers when a cell signal is detected, or quietly report the violation to the manager via email or text alert.

Software-based smartphone apps are also available as signal-blocking preventative measures, but may be limited to certain types of smart phones (typically BlackBerry only), or challenging to enforce from a management perspective. Inthinc developers bill their directional antenna as a foolproof cell detection service.