From Chicago Tribune
Motive technology is always on the go.
Take the rearview mirror. It made its way from the Indy 500 in the early 1900s onto every passenger vehicle made today.
Now, an automotive technology is being used on semitrailer trucks.
Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems of Elyria, Ohio, has come up with a stability control system for 18-wheelers like those found in cars. It says the system could reduce the number of semi rollovers by 50 percent.
According to government statistics, there are 15,000 semi rollover accidents yearly that result in 700 deaths and $150,000 per accident in damages to property and the goods being hauled.
“Stability control for semi trailers is an outcropping of stability control on cars,” said Jim McClelland, vice president of original equipment sales with Bendix. “Cars were first with the technology; now it’s trucks (semis).”
What took so long for semis to adapt technology offered in cars since the `90s and more recently in sport-utility vehicles?
“Trucks have more complexity. Cars don’t bend in the middle, semi trailers do, and cars have four wheels, semis have considerably more,” McClelland pointed out.
Stability control reduces the chances for an 18-wheeler to roll over or jackknife by applying the brakes at individual wheels when on-board sensors detect instability.
It’s the same principle as in cars, in which anti-lock brakes are applied to a slipping wheel and/or throttle is reduced to keep the vehicle on its intended path.
Bendix will make its stability control system available to truck fleets starting in the first quarter of next year. It has signed a pact to supply Volvo Trucks of North America with the system, which has been testing it since 2003, including in winter in Sweden.
“This is an item that contributes to enhanced safety,” said Matt Kelly, executive director of marketing for Volvo Trucks. “The system had to be engineered into our trucks and we took the time and expense over the last year and a half to incorporate it into our trucks because our customers have been continually calling for something like this.”
The system will be offered as an option by Volvo. No price has been set.
“We’ll probably start slowly with it as we do with most new technology. But a system designed to help avoid accidents will have an impact (on sales),” he said, noting that some of the most serious truck accidents are rollovers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages in addition to the injuries and loss of life.
The system, however, can’t be retrofitted to existing trucks because of its complexity.
Bendix won’t say what the system will add to the price of semis, though the cost will be offset by the savings in lives and dollars in rollover accidents prevented. Its universal adaptation will depend on demand from semi operators.
Copyright 2004 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.
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