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A couple of manufacturers are offering technologies designed to meet the regulatory demand for greater commercial trucking safety.

From 1995-1997, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shifted the emphasis away from "passive systems" (seat belts, air bags, crash zones, etc.) toward accident prevention by conducting an Automotive Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS) study. It recommended the development of a 360-degree collision-avoidance system that would reduce the most common types of trucking accidents: rear-ending, side collisions that occur during lane changes, and off-road collisions that occur while backing up.

Last fall, Indianapolis-based Transportation Safety Technologies (TST) responded by launching a new obstacle-detection system called "EagleEye." It uses ultrasonic sensors and a dashboard-mounted Driver Alert Module to audibly warn drivers that stationary or moving objects located ahead, to the side, or behind are in a danger zone. The module also provides a digital readout showing the object's distance from the truck.

Another manufacturer, Cleveland-based Eaton Corp.'s Eaton Vorad, offers its EVT-300 Collision Warning System (CWS), which has Doppler Radar sensors and driver displays for both the front and side of the truck for on-highway driving. Doppler Radar, by definition, detects the frequency of an object's reflected electromagnetic radiation to determine whether the object is moving toward or away from the measuring point. The system also offers wide-beam forward coverage for effectiveness on turns.