Anticipating new federal truck safety rules, Con-way Freight purchased 1,300 2010- model-year heavy trucks equipped with anti-crash safety technologies.
The company spent more than $100 million to purchase tractors equipped with technology to warn drivers of danger and even take control of the vehicle.
That significant investment in replacement trucks represents almost 20 percent of Con-way Freight's capacity, said Vice President of Safety Robert Petrancosta.
Its part of the less-than-truckload carrier's plan to prepare for the Department of Transportation's Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 regulations. "Con-way Freight is proactively pursuing a high-tech approach to safety," Petrancosta said, testing the technologies for more than a year before its purchase.
The carrier took part in a pilot project run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
"We had 18 drivers accumulate roughly 650,000 miles of data under actual operations," Petrancosta said. "Overwhelmingly they liked the technology."
The tractors purchased by Con-way are all 2010-model Freightliner Cascadias. An integrated set of technologies was installed in each vehicle, including systems warning against front-end collisions, lane departures and potential rollovers.
The forward collision warning system from Meritor WABCO uses adaptive cruise control technology to help drivers keep a safe following distance. The system uses forward-looking radar to detect a potential collision and warn the driver.
If the driver doesn't react, the system automatically applies the brakes.
The lane departure system from Iteris uses image recognition software to detect when a truck drifts out of a lane and emits an audible warning signal.
"The audio alarm is really in stereo, so if you're drifting to the right side, a right side alarm comes on. If you're drifting left, you'll hear it on your left," Petrancosta said.
The roll stability control system, also from Meritor WABCO, senses rollover conditions during hard cornering or a change in direction and automatically alerts the driver while decreasing power to the engine.
Con-way also specified factory-installed in-dash satellite AM/FM radios to replace portable radios drivers might bring into the cab.
"Too often they'll place it on the floor or the seat next to them, and they'll have to turn to adjust it or change the station," said Petrancosta.
"Putting the radio in the dash lets the driver keep focused on the road ahead."
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