Dealing with in-cab communication

By: Steve Skinner

Many new trucks these days have advanced technology, such as lane departure warning, to help drivers cope with fatigue. But the humble phone could help prevent drivers becoming fatigued in the first place

Dealing with in-cab communication
Smartphones could help truck drivers deal with COR.


Are you a truckie or do you employ truck drivers who have to wait to be loaded or unloaded?

As you know, waiting can be a huge fatigue issue, whether it’s often or only occasionally.

In this supposed age of chain of responsibility (COR), long distance drivers shouldn’t have to be shuffling up in a queue or keeping an eye on an electric board for their rego plate to come up.

Sure, in both scenarios they might be able to ‘rest’ most of the time, but they can’t sleep properly if they need to. Local drivers, who often do huge hours, need to sleep as well.

So the civilised thing for customers to do is to alert drivers when they are ready for them to come in.

However, the good old knock on the door seems to have gone the way of the dinosaurs. And paging systems — like the buzzer you’re given at your local RSL club when your meal is ready — seem to be as common as hen’s teeth.

We spoke to one distribution centre (DC) manager who had used pagers, but he said they often went missing (even though they’re no use on their own) and sometimes didn’t wake deep sleepers anyway.

That leaves the increasingly common method for the dock or gatehouse or terminal to let the driver know they’re ready to take them — a simple call on the driver’s mobile phone.

Unwanted callers

But there is a big problem with the phone call method, if you’re trying to sleep in the meantime. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry; or your wife, girlfriend, husband, mother, friend or tax haven advisor could call when you’re not expecting them to, and wake you up.

How can you leave the phone on, waiting for that all-important call, without being disturbed by someone else?

Bauer Media’s mobile phone specialist is Kathryn King, and in our experience she’s one of the most helpful people in the world.

King has some basic advice for smartphone users (and that’s three quarters of the population) on how to set-up their phones so that only one call will get through.

We’re defining smartphones here as being internet-capable.

The key term to remember is ‘Do Not Disturb’, and it’s all simpler than it might look at first glance.

Kathryn King.


About one third of smartphones in Australia are Apple’s iPhone.

‘Do Not Disturb’ mode is a native function on the iPhone — that means it comes with the phone.

It is found under ‘Settings’, and allows you to turn off all calls and notifications but have a list of contacts that you want to get through to you.

The catch is, if you just want the gatehouse to get through to you, and no one else, you’ll have to temporarily delete all your usual ‘Favourites’. You do that by swiping from left to right then pressing the red ‘delete’ tab.

To enable access for the gatehouse number, add it to your contact list book and then select ‘Add to Favourites’.

Once this number is the only favourite, go to ‘Settings’, then scroll down and hit ‘Do Not Disturb’ (with the moon icon).

Then at the top of the screen, activate the ‘Manual’ mode by sliding it across (it should turn green).

As the phone screen says "When Do Not Disturb is enabled, calls and alerts that arrive while locked will be silenced, and a moon icon will appear in the status bar."

‘Locked’ means the screen is locked, i.e. black. (You can manually lock and unlock the screen by pressing the little button on the top right edge of the phone. If the screen is lit up, then the whole ‘Do Not Disturb’ process won’t work.

But the screen automatically closes itself after a while anyway, if you’re not using the phone, to save power and avoid you pressing something by mistake.)

Moving down the ‘Do Not Disturb’ screen you then press the tab titled ‘Allow Calls From’. Once into that, you select ‘Favourites’ and a little blue tick will appear.

(A bit further down is ‘Silence’. You leave that in the default setting which is ‘Only while iPhone is locked’).

Now you’re ready to go to sleep. You can go back to the phone icon, and a little moon should be visible in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

Of course you’ve got to make sure your phone ringer is turned on.

iPhone apps

If you regularly have to wait to be loaded or unloaded, and don’t want to have to muck around with your ‘Favourites’ list each time, an alternative is to download an app from the Apple store.

Setting ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode on an iPhone can ensure you don’t miss that all-important call from the gatehouse.

You search ‘Do Not Disturb’ and a long list of apps should appear, in descending order of popularity. (Some of them will be games though.)

Some you pay for, some are free, but they have all been tested and verified by Apple.

Nevertheless, King points out as with all phone apps, there is an element of risk involved when you allow a third-party access to your phone — in terms of information security and possible bugs.

Android phones

King says last year about 60 per cent of the smartphones in Australia use the Android operating system, developed by Google. The Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia are Android phones, for example.

"Android is more popular due to its open platform operating system," she says.

"This means that outside entities, such as apps, can alter more of the phone’s functions whereas the iOS operating system is much more fixed".

"Android devices can be varied so I would suggest downloading an app from the Google Play store."

"Once a user downloads the app it’s pretty self-explanatory," King says.

She advises to make sure you look at the ratings and feedback/reviews for the apps before downloading.

An example of a popular one which appeared high on the list at the time of writing is called ‘Do Not Disturb’, where as with all these types of apps, you follow the set-up instructions as prompted.

On this one, for example, you put the specified contact into the ‘Priority Contact List’ or any special contact group you would like.

You can choose whether you want the phone to vibrate or not; the time period you want your phone to be in ‘Do Not Disturb mode’ etc.

Sweet dreams.


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