New highway regulations in Texas have fleet managers looking for ways to equip specific heavy haul trucks with roll-stability systems and blind spot protection. The new regulations, as laid out in Texas Senate Bill 1524, address heavier oversize and overweight intermodal vehicles that carry oceangoing or international trade containers within 30 miles of a port of entry or international bridge. SB 1524 mandates that roll-stability systems and blind spot protection be installed on these vehicles as a precondition of receiving an operating permit from the Texas Department of Transportation.
The bill increases the current permissible gross vehicle weight limit of 84,000 pounds vehicles. The bill’s author, Texas senator Robert Nichols, noted that "this legislation will allow Texas to maintain its competitive edge, as we compete with other states such as Louisiana, Florida and New York, who allow for increased weights on their roads."
Specifically, the bill amends current law relating to the movement of these international cargoes by means of two kinds of intermodal shipping containers. First, it covers containers that, together with a truck tractor, have a total of six axles, a gross weight of 93,000 pounds or less, and a length from front to last axles of about 647 inches. The bill also covers tractor-container combinations with seven axles, a GVW of up to 100,000 pounds, and an overall length of 612 inches.
Many of today’s trucks come with standard roll-stability systems however, blind spot protection is less common. Fleet managers will be best served by seeking out blind spot protection systems that can be easily customized and are ruggedized to handle harsh environments.
The new regulations require the blind spot detection system “detect other vehicles or objects located to the driver’s sides and rear,” and “use visual, audible, vibrating, or tactile warnings to alert operators to potential collisions.” PRECO has two specific products designed to meet these requirements.
PRECO has designed its PreView Side Defender radar-based object detection system specifically for the over-the-road (OTR) markets including trucking, municipalities, waste, and recycling. In the “Highway” mode, the system will alert the operator in the side blind zones while ignoring stationary objects such as guard rails so vehicle operators are not overwhelmed with nuisance alerts. The Side Defender also has a “Slow-speed” mode designed for urban areas. In this mode, the system is designed to prevent collisions with pedestrians and cyclists.
The PRECO PreView Sentry system is well-suited for use on the rear of large vehicles. The system’s five detection zones can be adjusted in terms of both the distance from the rear of the vehicle and vehicle width. As another vehicle or object approaches closer to the intermodal vehicle, it passes through these detection zones. As it does so, the warning lights and sounds inside the cabin increase to alert the driver to the approaching threat. Sentry is also capable of accurately identifying the location and velocity of up to 16 people or objects at once, and comes with an adjustable detection zone.
Both the Side Defender and the Sentry systems are designed to meet J1455 specs for vibration, shock, temperature, humidity, salt spray, immersion, steam cleaning, general electrical environments, steady state electrical, transient/noise, EMC, and EMI. They continue to work despite dust, rain, snow, and mud.
The Side Defender and Sentry system provide both visual and audible in-cab alerts. They also come with an integrated failsafe alert. The failsafe alert notifies the operator of radar blockage or communication issues so operators and fleet managers alike can be sure the systems are online and operational.As noted in an analysis of SB 1524, the purpose of putting these regulations in place is to “ensure the safety of the traveling public and to protect the integrity of the [state’s] highways and bridges.” Vehicle incidents often come at a great cost in terms of human suffering, financial loss, and damage to reputation. The call for these additional safety systems protects the public and, in the process, protects the transportation companies that operate on Texas roads.