U.S. Xpress, Chattanooga, TN, will soon start testing a new warning system that developers estimate could prevent nearly 4,000 heavy truck rollover accidents each year.
Unveiled yesterday during the National Transportation Safety Board's truck technology hearing in Nashville, the prototype Truck Rollover Warning System was developed by a public-private consortium led by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
To help determine when a load starts to shift, a sensing module on the trailer gathers information from acceleration, suspension air pressure, and torque sensors mounted on the trailer axle assembly. The information is sent in real time by a fiber optic network to the computer screen display on the dash. The computer determines the rollover risk based on the trailer information and other input such as vehicle speed. If rollover risk is high, a visual and/or audible alarm alerts the driver to slow down.
A year-long test will begin next month on several U.S. Xpress trucks on a route between Florida and Ohio on I-75. During the testing, the trucks will gather curve data to determine normal acceleration and strains, as well as typical swerving and braking patterns. In addition, the Tennessee DOT will install radio transponders at high-risk curves along the interstate that will interact with the onboard system to alert truckers to heightened risk.
The tests will be coordinated between the Oak Ridge lab and the Federal Highway Administration.
"This is the future, guys," said Marilyn Cochrane, a 17-year U.S. Xpress driver and member of the American Trucking Assns.' Road Team, as she showed the system to reporters and government officials at the NTSB hearing.