Tech Talk

Veteran truckie sings the praises of Spotto system


Well known interstate truckie, road safety advocate and president of the National Road Freighters Association (NRFA), Rod Hannifey, says Spotto’s Blind Spot Radar system recently came into its own – helping to prevent a possible collision with an impatient motorist on the Gateway Motorway in Brisbane.

Hannifey has been with Rod Pilon Transport for the past 15 years. Based in Dubbo, his runs are usually to Brisbane or Melbourne, carrying all manner of freight including general and dangerous goods in everything from B-double to road train set-ups. Though recently, he says, there have been numerous trips into Darwin and Perth too.

You’ll find him behind the wheel of a 2021 K200 Big Cab, which he’s had the keys to since February this year. “I was one of the first to trial the Spotto system, which was fitted before I took delivery of the truck. I had discussed it with Rod Pilon and thought the system was worthy. I’ve had various other systems before but nothing like this one, which is the first one I’ve used with blind spot detection,” explained Hannifey. 

Spotto’s Blind Spot Radar combines radar detection with visual and audible alerts. It’s an intelligent, speed-adaptive driver assistance system that aims to assist trucks to change lanes and manoeuvre with an added level of confidence.

Spotto was fitted to his new 2021 K200 Big Cab before he received the keys.

“Spotto is a driver aid that helps drivers be safer and more aware. While you might look in your mirror and not see something, there’s a little light that will illuminate if something is detected. If the system believes you are too close, it will give a beep. If it believes you’re critically too close, it beeps and goes berserk,” Hannifey said.

According to FleetSafe, which developed Spotto as an after-market blind spot detection system, the most common truck blind spots are directly in front of the truck, directly behind the truck, beside the driver’s door, on the passenger side extending into the adjacent lane and backwards, and to the left of the bonnet on bonneted trucks.

As Hannifey recently discovered, the system can very quickly pay for itself. “Last week when I was on the Gateway Motorway, I was in the third lane from the left trying to move into the second lane from the kerb. At the point in which I was moving over, the lane also finished and a car tried roaring up to jump in front of me,” he recalled.

“I have the daylight door in the Kenworth and have a spotter mirror on the left hand side too – but even though I looked in both mirrors, I didn’t see anyone there so I started moving over. That car came to move across and the Spotto system went berserk and warned me before I got too close for an impact. The car came roaring up the side and was in a spot I couldn’t see him, no matter what I did. 

“There have been other times where it’s gone off to tell me something is there and I am genuinely aware; but that’s the first time I believe it’s actually prevented an accident. It certainly helps me be safer and more aware. 

“Of course it would be great to have every safety system available fitted to the truck, but it all comes down to cost. Say for example, I had hit that car, then you’ve got time off the road if it does damage to the truck. A lot of people have dashcams but very few have one where it goes down the side of the truck. Spotto offers a system that’s cost effective and easy to install – once you fit it, it’s there for the life of the truck. It’s only got to prevent one incident and it’s paid for itself.”

Along with the Spotto system, Hannifey has also used FleetSafe’s Mobileye Advanced Driver Assistance System. “It’s based on the technology used by the majority of auto manufacturers. The aftermarket version can be retrofitted to any vehicle. The system also incorporates lane departure warning and proximity warning too. I had it on my old truck and found it very helpful, so now I’d like to get it fitted on this truck too.”

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