Higher Tech Safety

Several companies have developed cutting-edge technology that could be useful in decreasing truck safety problems.

  • Safety Warning System (SWS), Englewood, Fla., is a microwave technology with two components, a transmitter and a receiver (radar detector). The small brick-sized radio transmitter can be placed on a truck and programmed to activate receivers in nearby vehicles, alerting drivers when a traffic hazard or unusual situation looms ahead.

    Although radar detectors are currently illegal in tractor-trailers, the industry is putting together a stand-alone safety piece without radar detection capabilities that would pick up the SWS transmissions.

  • The LookOut warning system from Safety Enterprises, Owensboro, Ky., uses sonar technology to warn drivers when an object is in a blind-spot area behind the vehicle.

    The unit consists of ultrasonic sensors that can be placed anywhere on a truck, trailer or van, along with an LED display unit mounted within the cab. Very little training of drivers is required; the display unit has only two buttons (power and alarm), along with an LED readout of distances from 1.0 to 9.9 feet and a graphical outline of the truck.

  • A line of heated windshield wipers is available from Northland Engineered Products Inc., Grand Folks, N.D. The wipers connect directly into a vehicle's ignition system to start de-icing immediately and to stop ice and snow from building up while driving.

The wipers feature a built-in-etched foil heating element that maintains a minimum 50 degrees F at -60 degrees F to 100 degrees F, along with Nordel elastomer wiper blades, to keep windshields clear of ice and snow. The unit is wired directly into a vehicle's ignition system and is controlled by an on/off switch.