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Arkansas Uses Heat Sensor To Check Truck Brakes

October 2, 2001

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Technology used on Apache helicopters during the Gulf War is now being tested in Arkansas to seek out dangerous truck brakes.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an infrared system, mounted atop a nondescript white van, is being evaluated in a three-month test.
During a demonstration at an I-40 inspection station, the infrared system spotted more than a dozen trucks with potentially defective brakes in the first couple of hours. When the system detects bad brakes, officers in the van parked near the inspection station exit ramp radio officers up the line to pull the trucks over for an inspection.
Cpl. Ross Baston, a field training officer for the Arkansas Highway Police, told the paper that it's a much better way to find defective brakes than "hit or miss" random inspections. "We're not wasting our time or the driver's time," he said. "It's a more effective use of time."
The device works by showing a white glow on each wheel when the brakes are working. If the brakes aren't working, the device would show the wheels as black, or cold. Officers don't stop every truck with cold brakes; trucks with brakes barely registering may have just started their journey or be traveling unloaded. But a truck with one or two cold brakes while the others are hot is targeted for inspection.
The system is valued at $300,000, 80 percent of which the federal government would pay for.

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