Eaton launches next generation of Vorad

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Department of Transportation announced that the 2007 random drug and alcohol testing rates for employees regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will remain at 50 percent for drugs and 10 percent for alcohol. The Federal Transit Administration has reduced its random drug testing rates from 50 percent to 25 percent. For more information, including how to look up employees’ previous testing records, go to this site.

Sixty-six individuals received exemptions on Feb. 6 from FMCSA allowing them to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce even though they have insulin-treated diabetes mellitus. The three-year exemptions are effective immediately. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 26321.

FMCSA is giving states until March 31 to apply for grant funding related to Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks. Money will be available to deploy, operate and maintain elements of state CVISN programs, including commercial vehicle, commercial driver and carrier-specific information systems and networks. For more information on the CVISN grant program, consult the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at this site and cite CFDA No. 20.237.

States have until March 31 to submit grant applications for funding to improve the quality of crash and inspection data on trucks and buses that is reported to FMCSA. The grant program was established by the 2005 highway legislation. Applications must be submitted at this site and must cite CFDA No. 20.234.

Eaton Corp. has developed the Vorad VS-400, a new generation of its truck safety system. The system, which will be available in limited quantities in April and will be in full production by June, incorporates a collision warning system (CWS) with forward-looking radar, the company’s Blindspotter side sensor and SmartCruise adaptive cruise control. Truck owners also will be able to obtain data in real time through a subscription to the safety package of Eaton’s Fleet Resource Manager, powered by @Road.

Features of the next-generation Vorad include a new 77-GHz radar that won’t require a special bumper to be installed on the truck, as with the current version of Vorad. The radar, which integrates a CWS and adaptive cruise control, is 70 percent lighter and 60 percent smaller than the existing EVT-300 radar and cuts the number of wires to four from the current 18.

The system also employs a new driver interface unit that offers visual and audio alerts and the ability to configure for left/right speaker capability. The unit is user-programmable and can accept driver identification and up to four personal identification numbers. And it is designed to support lane-departure warning systems and other technologies that follow defined protocol structure.

The new system is modular, so truck owners can purchase Smart Cruise adaptive cruise control, BlindSpotter side-object detection system and standard collision warning separately or together as one package.
– Avery Vise

Judge wants steel coil crackdown
An Alabama judge says he’s tired of dealing with steel coils falling off 18-wheelers. Jefferson County District Judge Shelly Watkins says he will impose the maximum penalties for truck drivers ticketed for having improperly loaded steel coils. All drivers ticketed for improperly loaded coils must appear in his court, and drivers found guilty will be fined $2,000 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Watkins told the Birmingham News in February that something must be done before a motorist is killed.

Since 1987, 26 flatbed trucks have dropped steel coils on Birmingham-area interstates, injuring one woman and causing millions of dollars in damage to the highways, the News reported. Damages have averaged between $200,000 and $300,000 per repair; state transportation officials document every expense and seek reimbursement from the trucking company or the hauler’s insurance company.

The most recent spill happened the morning of Feb. 19 on I-20/59, forcing troopers and police to close the eastbound lanes until mid-afternoon. No one was hurt.

Doe climbs a tree
Although it was pitch black on the Kansas two-lane highway, with 50 mph March winds and torrential rain, trucker John Doe maintained his usual calm. After all, he still had plenty of fuel, several cans of Red Bull, a 24-hour emergency supply of Sun Chips and some great “truckin’ tunes” on his new iPod. “Man, this thing’s great,” Doe said to himself. “Sure beats that ol’ eight-track player I had in my Corvette back in high school.”

Sure, the weather was foul, and his delivery of carpet to the nearby Shaga-delic showroom was running late. But things could be a lot worse, Doe thought – and soon would be, because Mother Nature was about to deal him a cruel hand. Contending with close to zero visibility, Doe was carefully rolling his straight truck along at 25 mph, keeping a close watch for the first sight of taillights ahead and hoping to find a safe place to pull off the road and wait for the winds to diminish.

Suddenly, looming out of the darkness and blocking Doe’s path, was