One of Kenworth's key focuses in product development is to explore technologies that can help make trucks safer both for truck drivers and for other vehicles on the road. We believe the best way to do this is through technology that helps professional drivers make the right decisions on the road, and not technology that dictates decisions to drivers.
Earlier this year, we introduced a prototype Kenworth T2000 Technology Truck with an emphasis on safety technology. This project gave our engineering team the chance to investigate, test and begin to assess some of the latest technologies.
Our Technology Truck includes safety-related systems that provide better information to the driver. After thorough testing, some of these systems may qualify to be added as production options, while others may not.
Here's a brief look at some of these safety-related items:
n A vision system utilizes miniature video cameras with monitors in the cab to aid in changing lanes, backing up and turning tight corners. Cameras in the side mirrors provide rear-viewing images. A sleeper-mounted, passenger-side camera offers a curb view. The system supplements existing mirror and window visibility.
n A forward-looking, infrared night vision system extends the driver's vision several times farther down the road and more outward onto the shoulder than current headlights. The driver receives more advance warning, for example, of a deer crossing the highway or a driver changing a tire on the shoulder.
n A driver's drowsiness monitor helps drivers track performance in keeping the vehicle in its lane and gives an alertness rating based on that performance. An audible warning beeps and the system displays a "stop driving" message if that score falls below a pre-determined threshold.
n An electronic navigation system gives visual directions to the destination. Verbal directions are available, helping keep the driver's attention on the road.
n An electronic braking system uses "brake-by-wire" technology to control a vehicle's traditional air-brake system. Disc brakes with computerized lining-wear sensors are included. Electronic sensors in the truck monitor road temperature and conditions, which impact stopping distances.
n A hands-free cell phone lets the driver answer, talk and do voice-activated calling while keeping both hands on the steering wheel.
n The Technology Truck also includes safety-related technologies involving lighting that would offer new information to other drivers on the road. A light on the back of the truck is green when it's accelerating, yellow when coasting and red when braking. During a panic stop, brake lights and emergency flashers appear. When a vehicle cuts in too closely, or within the truck's safe stopping zone, the front brake lights flash rapidly for a few seconds to alert that driver.
Kenworth will continue to work with fleets, drivers and suppliers to investigate, test and assess new technologies that foster safety.
Kenworth Truck Company, a division of PACCAR Inc, is a leading manufacturer of heavy- and medium-duty trucks. Kenworth has a dealer network of more than 275 locations throughout the United States and Canada. The company's Internet home page can be found at www.kenworth.com.