Tech That Boosts Trucker Safety

More than 800 truck drivers died on the job in 2014 — that's 25 fatalities for every 100,000 motorists -- making trucking one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Now, new technology hopes to improve driver safety. From a smartwatch that tracks driver activity to a dash cam that senses collisions, here are four tech must-haves that facilitate a safer driving experience.

The Smartwatch That Detects Accidents

This smartwatch designed for truckers was developed by Swedish truck manufacturer Scania. It shares the functionality of Sony's SmartWatch 3, but comes with a unique fleet monitoring system that connects to a vehicle. Features include smart fuel data -- the watch displays average fuel consumption in real time, great for when truckers are on the road -- and transport metrics like speed and average distance. Additionally, a driving support score analyzes the trucker's behavior, with score values that enhance driving efficiency and lower fuel usage.

Recently, Scania added a new app that monitors driver activity. The watch alerts wearers when it senses a sudden impact -- during an accident, for example -- and automatically notifies a trucker's emergency contact. "Connectivity makes it easier for us to assist our customers," explains Theunes Van der Westhuizen, Scania's head of connected services.

The App That Stops Truckers Texting

Sixteen-thousand commercial motorists received a citation for using a mobile device behind the wheel in 2013, according to legal firm Jones & Swanson. DriveSafe.ly from iSpeech plans to change this. The app, which costs $7.99 per month or $79.90 per year, reads out text messages in real time, providing instant hands-free communication. It's compatible with Bluetooth and comes with one-touch activation and a customizable autoresponder. "It keeps you connected with everybody else," says Heath Ahrens from DriveSafe.ly. "The app reads text messages, emails and caller ID when you don't have the ability to use your hands and your eyes."

DriveSafe.ly isn't the only app that enhances driver safety. LifeSaver blocks a phone's features when a trucker is driving.

The App That Tells Truckers What It's Really Like on the Road

Like a TripAdvisor for truckers, Trucker Path includes reviews of weigh stations, fuel stations, rest areas and truck stops, helping drivers get from points A to B safely. The app enhances communication between drivers, boasting hundreds of thousands of active users and significant monthly growth. "Trucker Path connects the largest community of truckers with other truckers, brokers, and logistics professionals to improve life on and off the road," says the company on its website. The app is available on Google Play and the App Store, and is free to download.

The Dash Cam That Detects Collisions

The 1FalconEye 1080P Trucker Dash Cam provides drivers with an extra pair of eyes and ears. Its manufacturer describes it as a "vehicle black box" that records a trucker's view in real time with audio. The camera utilizes G-sensor technology that detects a collision and automatically records an accident 20 seconds before and after impact, making it useful for insurance claims and police reports.

More truckers are using dashcams as a safety precaution. Seventy-one percent of drivers believe this technology could cut bogus insurance claims, while 39 percent are thinking about installing a cam.

The latest connectivity and technology has revolutionized the way truckers operate on the road. These digital companions monitor driver safety, analyze behavior, record accidents and have the potential to save a trucker's life.