In part 3 of this article, we’ll discuss auto transport safety and security measures. Please read parts 1 & 2 before beginning.
- On Auto Transport Part 1: Airplane, Ship, or Railroad Car
- On Auto Transport Part 2: Double-Decker and Personal Options
Accidents have occurred in various forms of auto transport, but overall, the auto industry has a notably safe and efficient track record. Authorities state that most auto transport accidents and damages result from human mistakes rather than equipment malfunctions.
- In November 2002, almost 3,700 vehicles were destroyed when the Hual Europe ship caught fire after running aground during a typhoon close to a Japanese island.
- In December 2002, an accident occurred in the English Channel between a Norwegian car carrier called the Tricolor and a container ship called Kariba. The Tricolor sank rapidly within 30 minutes, taking with it more than 2,000 luxury cars. So while it did not sink primarily due to the weight of the cargo as we wondered about in part two, it still sank nonetheless.
While the U.S. Department of Transportation reported in 2005 that out of the 4,932 fatal accidents involving large trucks, only 31 active auto transporters, these transporters are still prone to untimely incidents.
Additionally, accidents involving vehicles loaded onto open trailers can result in injury. One example is when a forklift loads an inoperable vehicle, and the vehicle falls off the trailer.
Another example is when workers slip off the upper deck, or if the safety pins meant to limit the ramp’s movement are not in use, the ramps can drop quickly and cause injury.
- To prevent this, some newer trailers manufactured by Boydstun have hydraulic rams with screw-drive technology with an internal positive-lock mechanism, eliminating the need for safety pins.
Ford and Toyota officials say that nearly all of their new vehicles are delivered to dealerships without any damage, usually between 99.7 and 99.88 percent of the time. Automakers encourage this by giving auto carriers incentives for delivering vehicles on time and in good condition.
Some automakers use plastic wrap to cover the entire vehicle or specific sensitive areas to protect the vehicle. At the same time, heavy tarps can be placed on the trailer sides to keep the lower vehicles safe from debris. Luxury models are typically transported in enclosed trailers to protect them from the elements and road debris.
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Many people in the auto transport industry recognize that the field needs to be faster to accept new ideas and technology. However, other people are hopeful because there has been increased collaboration between organizations and a focus on developing eco-friendly solutions.
Previously, car companies did not like their vehicles to be transported together with another company’s cars. This was costing transportation companies money and fuel, so car companies started to talk about sharing trucks and rail cars.
- Walter Lowe from Ford, who was involved in the conversations, said that although the companies compete for sales, they don’t compete on the truck.
The auto-transport industry is looking to develop a more efficient network of transporters through improved GPS and cellular technology.
This could be based on a hub-and-spoke system similar to some airlines. Equipment will likely stay the same, but new designs will make trailers safer for operators. These trailers will also have additional protective measures to reduce the chance of vehicle damage during loading.
Heavy-duty trucks are becoming more eco-friendly using clean diesel engines, biofuels, and advanced exhaust treatments.
Additionally, hybrid versions of these trucks are being produced, similar to the Toyota Prius, which will use an electric motor for acceleration and low-speed driving and then blend in power from the diesel engine for more efficient cruising.
Interestingly, vehicle-transporting services are adapting to become more secure and safer for their crew and equipment. Due to such steep requirements, it won’t be surprising that this method will soon become one of the safest ways to transport vehicle cargo to suppliers and customers.
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