The next frontier

Nov. 1, 2000
Following the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's recent announcement that it wants truck-related fatalities slashed by 50% over the next 10 years, any fleet not concerned with safety instantly got the message. Stiffened penalties and continued talk of operating incentives have a way of doing that.While the traditional solution to improved safety - driver training - may have created its fair share of millionaires,

Following the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's recent announcement that it wants truck-related fatalities slashed by 50% over the next 10 years, any fleet not concerned with safety instantly got the message. Stiffened penalties and continued talk of operating incentives have a way of doing that.

While the traditional solution to improved safety - driver training - may have created its fair share of millionaires, the trucking industry now recognizes that education alone won't be able to achieve current targets. Even trucking's elite drivers are capable of a bad day and all of the training in the world can't eliminate the human factor.

It's up to technology to pick up where knowledge and experience leave off to help create the safer highways Americans are demanding.

Giving a trucker extra time to react to possible accidents translates into fewer on-highway incidents. Testing conducted by Mercedes-Benz indicates that an extra half-second of reaction time reduced accidents by about 60%. The same data showed that a full extra second minimized collisions 90% of the time. Unfortunately, when drivers become distracted, the statistics slide in the opposite direction.

However, the on-board alarm of the Eaton VORAD Collision Warning System affords all drivers more of this precious reaction time - especially those having an off day. The front sensors constantly feed the on-board Doppler radar system with information on changing traffic patterns. The system's ability to read around curves in the road means that drivers can slow down before they're even able to see approaching problems. The side sensors also warn drivers attempting lane changes when something is hiding in their sizable blind spots.

In addition, the latest version of VORAD, the EVT-300, is capable of feeding the Vehicle Information Management System (VIMS) data on following distance, hard braking applications and average speed. The Accident Reconstruction module records target tracking, speed, braking, warnings, and the evasive action (Yaw rate) taken by the driver, and eventually this information will be streamed back to the fleet instantly through wireless communications.

The EVT-300 obviously has the ability to help the trucking community meet the lofty goal of the government's initiative, but only if fleets are willing to invest in life-saving technology.

Companies that now include the VORAD Collision Warning System as a standard specification on their new vehicles are seeing rear-end and lane change accidents practically disappear. Most have enjoyed a drop in these accident types ranging from 35 to 100%. That's the true payback of VORAD for fleet customers - reduced repair bills, lower insurance costs, and an improved operating record.

The benefits of this technology even extend beyond safety, offering solutions to a second challenge most large fleets share today - the driver shortage. The newest feature for the EVT-300 is SmartCruise, which helps the driver maintain a safe following distance. It will ease the lives of truckers and help fleets attract and retain drivers of all experience levels from all walks of life.

The EVT-300 with SmartCruise is now available on Volvo, Mack and Western Star tractors direct from the factory, and Freightliner is set to follow suit in the coming months.

About the Author

LEE McCLEERY

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