OnGuard against crashes

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The Bush administration is proposing a fiscal 2009 budget for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admini-stration of $541 million – up $11 million from the funding in the current fiscal year. The additional funds include $7 million for grants to states and $4 million for increases in FMCSA’s operations and programs. The budget request, which must be reviewed by Congress, represents only inflation-related adjustments and no increased funding for program initiatives.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued various changes to hazardous materials regulations, including provisions relating to the labeling and transportation of ethanol/gasoline blends and transportation requirements applicable to dry ice, detonator assemblies and explosives. PHMSA also expanded exceptions from regulation for small quantities of hazardous materials. For more information, visit and search Docket No. PHMSA-05-21812.

Department of Homeland Security established minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards that federal agencies would accept for official purposes as required by the REAL ID Act of 2005. States must issue REAL ID-compliant cards by Dec. 1, 2014 for people born after Dec. 1, 1964, and by Dec. 1, 2017 for those born on or before Dec. 1, 1964. For more information, visit and search Docket No. DHS-2006-0030.

FMCSA plans to survey all drivers regarding their awareness of the Share the Road Safely outreach program.

Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems ( introduced the OnGuard system, which combines forward-looking radar-based collision avoidance with adaptive cruise control and active braking. OnGuard, targeted for availability in the third quarter of 2008 as a factory-installed option at several truck manufacturers, automatically applies foundation brakes, both to alert the driver and to decelerate the vehicle when it breaches a pre-set following distance. OnGuard currently is installed on nearly 200 vehicles, most of them operated by truckload carrier Prime Inc.

“The driver is still the most important element in maintaining vehicle safety,” says Jon Morrison, president and general manager of Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems. “However, the system can provide the additional split-second deceleration needed to maintain control of the vehicle in an emergency situation.”

Like other collision warning systems on the market, OnGuard offers visual and audible alarms and engine braking as alerts to the driver of potentially dangerous situations. What distinguishes OnGuard, Meritor WABCO says, is automatic foundation brake intervention, which can be as great as one-third of a full brake application. If the driver reacts, however, his actions will cancel out the automatic intervention.

According to Meritor WABCO, another advantage of OnGuard is integration with the company’s anti-lock braking and stability control systems, allowing various levels of safety control systems using a single ABS electronic control unit.

OnGuard’s forward-looking mono-pulse radar sensor can detect multiple moving and fixed objects at distances up to 500 feet away, Meritor WABCO says. The system quickly coordinates responses from the engine, transmission and anti-lock braking systems through communications across the SAE J1939 data network. OnGuard provides feedback to the driver through the in-cab dash display, which includes a progressive audible alert. Meritor WABCO says the sequence of monitoring, warning and intervention is an important part of its strategy to reduce false alarms. OnGuard uses a time-to-collision algorithm rather than a simple two-second headway alarm typically used in today’s systems.

In highlighting the need for OnGuard and systems like it, Meritor WABCO cites National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data showing that rear-end collisions account for more than 20 percent of all heavy-truck crashes and that the truck is the striking vehicle in 60 percent of those accidents. Inattention or poor decisions are the primary factor in 66 percent of crashes where the truck driver is assigned fault, the company notes.

Meritor WABCO is a joint venture of ArvinMeritor and WABCO Automotive Control Systems.

Truck safety sets benchmark
Truck-involved fatal crashes fall to all-time low

Three of the primary measures of fatal accidents involving large trucks fell to record lows in 2006, according to figures released by the Department of Transportation. Federal Highway Administration vehicle mileage figures, used to determine annual crash rates, showed that the large truck-involvement rate in fatal crashes, the fatality rate and the fatal crash rate for large trucks each declined to its lowest level since DOT began tracking large truck safety records in 1975.

The 2006 fatal crash rate for large trucks stood at 1.93 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, breaking the previous low of 1.97 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2002. The large truck-involvement rate fell to 2.12 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from 2.21 a year earlier. The fatality rate declined to 2.24 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from 2.34 in 2005.

The fatal crash rate measures the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks per 100 million miles traveled. The large truck-involvement rate measures the number of trucks involved in fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled. The fatality rate measures the number of deaths in truck-involved crashes per 100 million miles traveled.

“These figures illustrate the effectiveness of the trucking industry’s continuous efforts to increase safety on the nation’s highways,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “The motor carrier commitment to safety and industry outreach efforts are playing major roles in improving highway safety for all drivers.”

Preventable or not: Forklift lowers Doe’s spirits
Aside from a brief snowstorm, the trip to the Iceberg Lake Shopping Mall in Ironwood, Mich., has been easy, straight-truck driver John Doe thought to himself. The real challenge, he felt, would be offloading some boxes of power tools at the snow-barricaded dock of the All-American Hardware Store. Fortunately, a narrow channel had been cut through the snowbank to a ramp leading to the dock.

So – after fortifying himself with some Spicy Ranch Doritos – Doe called upon assistant manager Joe “Cool” Summer to crank up the store’s forklift and offload the freight. After rolling up the truck’s rear door and shoving some boxes into position, Doe watched Summer descend the ramp astride his battle-scarred Towmaster. The first load was transferred to the dock without incident, but the forklift ran into a snow-covered pothole on the return trip.

The solution, Summer proposed, was for Doe’s truck to gently nudge the unladen forklift backward, out of the hole. To protect the truck, two hefty pieces of wood were crammed into some holes in Doe’s bumper. Alas, when push came to shove, a piece of wood splintered, sailed like a javelin through the hole in the bumper and