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.