Since the FMCSA and DOT’s new revised ruling that banned hand-held cell phones in commercial trucks went into effect Jan. 3rd, Volvo made the move to standardize all hands-free communication options in their 2012 heavy trucks. Volvo’s Head Product Manager Frank Bio explains that the move is consistent with Volvo’s absolute priority regarding driver safety.
Volvo’s standard Bluetooth radio package includes a radio unit, a highly sensitive microphone mounted in the overhead console, and full audio delivered through the truck’s speaker system. The integrated design allows drivers to view pertinent incoming and outgoing call information on the vehicle’s Driver Information Display.
Frank Bio explained details of how their system operates:
While the Bluetooth system utilizes the highly visible Driver Information Display, the unique Volvo
integrated system prioritizes critical driver messages, like active safety alerts or vehicle operational warnings. The information hierarchy we’ve developed and integrated into our trucks means phone calls will not impede drivers from receiving the vital information they need about their vehicle or driving conditions. The system extends the phone’s features, such as answering the phone by pushing one button, as required in the regulations.
Volvo is the first, but likely won’t be the last to make a standardized hands-free communications package available for commercial trucks. The federal hand-held cell phone ban was a contentious issue that divided the transportation and trucking industry over safety vs. cost. The NHTSA made the revision to the ruling known in 2010, ultimately getting the nod of approval from the Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood based on rising safety concerns in November 2011.