Keeping it Safe on the Road

New technologies help keep your trucks running safely and efficiently.


Korn says the system represents a big improvement over previous systems that provided warnings but could not help drivers avoid collisions.

“Our background is in brake control, so we like to focus our attention on control systems that involve the control of foundation brakes,” Korn says. “So this became very natural for our evolution.”

Korn says maintaining their collision mitigation system is very similar to anti-lock or stability control products.

“The electrical connections can typically cause some issues, (but) the actual individual components; there’s nothing to repair.” he says. “If a component fails, the diagnostics will pinpoint the problem to the technician, and the technician will have to change the component. What is very important is the actual wiring between the components—make sure things are tie-wrapped properly but not overly tight—maybe look to get away from the use of tie wraps to other clips that won’t pinch the wires. Some fleets might have issues with other control systems and if you don’t pay proper attention, these will carry to collision mitigation systems.”

BENDIX

Elyria, OH-based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems is currently testing its new radar-based collision mitigation system, expected to be available to fleets in mid-to-late 2008, says electronics marketing manager Fred Andersky.

“(The system) slows the vehicle down by reducing the throttle, engaging the engine retarder and applying the brakes as necessary to slow the vehicle down and maintain that following distance,” Andersky says. “We combine that with our stability system, because when you apply brakes, obviously on a slick surface you can create some instability.”

Andersky says the system is designed to provide drivers with a variety of options to maintain following distance and help them to keep control of their vehicles when they need to make evasive maneuvers.

“Our eventual goal is to get to proactive accident mitigation so we’re able to help the driver avoid as much as possible getting into a collision or accident,” Andersky says. “If (fleets are) having a lot of front-end collisions, they’re looking for technologies… like adaptive cruise control.”

As promising as some of these systems are, Andersky says they do not mean much if they cannot improve the bottom line.

“It’s a little bit like health insurance; it’s to be there when you need it,” Andersky says. “This technology is not going to make a bad driver a good driver, it’s just going to help a good driver to avoid a bad situation.”

Troubleshooting and repairing their systems will not be difficult for technicians who are up on their electronics, Andersky says, since little actual maintenance is needed.

“We will be updating our diagnostic software, which we make available free to fleets and to maintenance shops,” Andersky says. “(Technicians) will need to make sure they’re equipped with the latest version, and we’ll probably have a bulletin about this that will help them to figure out what the fault codes are and how to take care of things. Perhaps the biggest issue we’re looking at is the alignment of the sensor—it will sit behind the bumper or protective material, but it could be susceptible to rocks or damage or alignment problems.”

Stuart says technicians should have no troubles maintaining any of these systems.

“If there’s anything, it’s to truly understand the basic braking and valve systems,” Stuart says. “I don’t think it’s any more a hurdle than any other electronic diagnostics that are currently being used. Make sure they are up on their electronics.”

MOVING FORWARD

Aside from reducing accident costs, changing driver behavior for the long term is an important side benefit of delving into these technologies, Murray says. And the sooner fleets start, the sooner they can reap the rewards.

“There are really smart, safe carriers out there designing driver simulator scenarios around the sort of activities these on-board technologies are discovering,” Murray says. “So the minute you find out from your collision warning system that you’ve got a couple drivers for (whom) hard braking is a way of life, they’ll bring the guys back into the driver simulator and concentrate on hard braking.”

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