One truck component maker with safety on the mind has come up with a way to give drivers more time in tense situations.
Eaton Vorad Technologies has developed a bumper-mounted collision-warning system to alert drivers of impending collisions. It is designed to give them up to four seconds of additional reaction time to avoid mishaps.
'We feel safety is a very important function in our industry,' said Rick Karel, national sales manager for Eaton Vorad in Kalamazoo, Mich. 'It's clear that fleets are very concerned with safety, and such concerns are escalating throughout the truck industry.'
DOPPLER RADAR ALERT
Eaton Vorad, a joint venture between Cleveland-based Eaton Corp. and Vorad Safety Systems of San Diego, has developed its high-frequency Doppler radar system to alert drivers of stopped or slow-moving vehicles ahead of them, or of any vehicles lurking in their blind spot.
The collision-warning system transmits radar signals from the front and side of the truck, and upon sensing a potential hazard, emits a combination of lights and audible tones to allow drivers to take evasive action. It can warn of potential hazards up to 350 feet ahead.
The warning system was introduced last year, with the marketing emphasis so far focused on two regional sales areas - mostly the Central and Great Lakes states.
'It's so different than our core products - transmissions and axles - that we needed to walk before we run,' Karel said. However, it is available nationally.
'SMART' CRUISE CONTROL
Eaton Vorad also is developing an intelligent cruise control option, to be available in about a year, that will work in conjunction with the radar system, automatically reducing speed if the truck enters the buffer zone between two vehicles.
Landstar System Inc., a trucking company with 9,000 units on the road, is one of Eaton Vorad's largest customers. The Shelton, Conn., company will install 600 radar units this year.
Only 100 of the units have been installed to date, so it's difficult to measure any accident reduction yet, said Shannon Scott, vice president of maintenance at Poole Truck Line, a Landstar subsidiary.
'But we have an attitude that if we can save just one life, it's worth the investment,' Scott said. 'Right now, our drivers are in a learning mode.'