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Safe and secure

"Safety" and "security" carry different meanings for everyone. To a parent, these words might conjure images of their child, tucked into a warm, cozy bed. A soldier, on the other hand, may think of safe and secure as sleeping far from enemy lines under the watchful eye of anti-aircraft radar.

To a trucker, safety means being able to continue down the highway, from one load to the next, without incident. Security could mean not having to worry about cargo and vehicle theft. There are a number of new products on the market that address a trucker's concerns about safety and security. Here is a brief look at some of the newest and most innovative devices:

Safety for you...

Traffic Warning Radar

Eaton's VORAD system, a collision-avoidance system for big trucks, uses on-board radar to alert drivers to hazards that cause accidents. The radar detects stopped or slow moving vehicles, vehicles following too closely, and vehicles in a truck's blind spots. An alarm sounds several seconds in advance of a potential hazard. The system can reportedly "see" through fog, dust, rain, or snow. Since 1994, Eaton has sold more than 10,000 systems throughout the U.S.

Late in 1998, the company released its SmartCruise, which works together with the VORAD system to potentially make a truck even safer. The SmartCruise is an adaptive cruise control specifically made for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The system, when working with the VORAD, automatically adjusts your vehicle speed, based on traffic conditions.

For more information, contact Eaton/VORAD at 1-800-386-1911, or see their website at www.vorad.com.

Deer Defense Device

When a deer wanders its way near or onto a highway, disaster can be only a heartbeat away. In an effort to give Bambi a "heads up," XP3 Corporation has developed the Hornet™.

Attached to the front of your truck, the Hornet emits a high-pitched sonic echo when the vehicle is in motion. The sound is reported to frighten off deer (and other animals) within range of your truck. The echo is produced, the company says, at any speed. According to the company's brochure, "This (product has shown its) ability to alert deer and most other animals of your approaching vehicle, with sufficient warning (to the animal) to avoid costly accidents."

XP3 Corporation can be reached at 800-475-3563.

Driver Warning Seat

Driver fatigue is a problem that every trucker encounters at one point or another. But what if you could rely on your seat to keep you alert?

Relaxor, Inc. has examined drowsiness problems associated with extended and stressful vehicular travel, and has come up with a seat that will reportedly give that extra "nudge" to keep you alert. Their Tactile-Alert Communication Technology (TACT) system combines comfort with safety. TACT monitors the status of the truck's engine, brakes, turn signals, etc. and relays any irregularities to the driver via the driver's seat. ComfortAlert™ pulse-massage motors act with full intensity and random rhythm to alert when there is possible danger or malfunction.

Check out the ComfortAlert seating system at www.relaxor.com/oemvehic.htm.

Bold Blinkers

When making a left or right turn or braking, Hi-Lite Safety Systems, Inc. wants to make certain everyone behind you knows your intentions.

The 4.75 inch by 14.75 inch (other configurations are available) light panels, called "Hi-Lites"™ mount high on your trailer. The high-mounted, large panels are said to increase visibility to other drivers during inclement weather conditions. Each standard light panel contains a dual-action brake, tail, turn, and side lighting system. All styles are DOT approved, attach to your existing electrical system, and are warrantied for one year. Additionally, the company says some insurance companies will lower your rates after installation.

Jeff Hymer, president and CEO of Hi-Lite Safety Systems, encourages interested drivers to call 800-970-0272 with questions. The company's website is www.hi-lite-safetysystems.com.

Monitoring Technology

"Extensive testing had demonstrated that serious mechanical failures of many types can occur to both trucks and trailers without the operator having any awareness of impending trouble," according to Wheel Monitor, Inc. In response to this statement, the company has pinpointed "areas of greatest concern relating to trucking safety," and developed two products to increase safety.

The company's Early Warning System (EWS) monitors each axle of the cab or trailer for abnormal heat, movement between rims, and irregular vibrations, and notifies the driver on the in-cab vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) screen. Additionally, the Cab Trailer Communication (CTC) links other systems (such as your trailer's refrigeration unit or your lift axle operation, for example), to the CPU, also warning the driver when there appears to be a malfunction.

Ontario-based Wheel Monitor, Inc. can be reached at 905-641-0024, or at www.wheelmonitor.com.

Interior Cargo Lock

Building on their slogan, "You can't defeat what you can't see," Power In-Lock™, Inc. says their product eliminates the false sense of security associated with exterior locks.

Because standard cargo door locks are often defeated easily, Power In-Lock operates from the inside of the trailer. The key entry is hidden from view. The system is portable, and available for both swing-out and roll-down doors. The company says their product "cannot be cut, pounded or pried open, virtually eliminating the easy access the thieves have had in the past." For more information call 800-465-6257. If you have web access, go towww.power-in-lock.com.

Protect Load Locks

When not in use, your load locks can often become the target of theft, or a casualty of the highway, if they aren't properly secured. Jones Manufacturing's J-Lock could put an end to your constant load lock replacement.

J-Lock secures your load locks when they're not in use, thereby protecting against theft or loss on the highway. The product's rubber inserts eliminate rattling, and the custom installation prevents damage to your cab's fairing and quarter fenders that result from side-to-side storage.

The J-Lock comes in five styles in either two- or four-bay versions to fit every need. They secure 1 1/2 inch or 1 5/8 inch bars, and 2 inch x 4 inch or 4 inch x 4 inch pads. Jones Manufacturing Co. can be contacted at 419-465-2009.

Truck-stopping Alarm

Truckers Alarm System, Inc. lays claim to the only system with "engine shutdown" capabilities. Regardless of whether your truck is running or not, if an intruder enters your cab (or tampers with your battery box, hood, air cleaners, etc.) when the system is armed, the engine renders itself temporarily inoperable. An alarm sounds, alerting others that a theft is in progress.

The control module is not a motion system, thereby decreasing the probability of false alarms. The system also comes with remote operation (in the event you want to leave your truck running while you eat dinner in a truckstop). Jimmy McRae, president of Truckers Alarm System, Inc., welcomes questions at 706-734-7035, or via e-mail at smcrae@wavegate.com.

Lock the Landing Gear

When a rig is parked, the trailer (and its contents) become an easy target for theft. A thief can simply hook up to a trailer, crank up the landing gear, and drive off.

Gear Down has created a device that locks the landing gear in place. The sturdy, do-it-yourself anti-theft device requires only a few tools to install, but can potentially save you millions in stolen goods. It is effective whether you are connected or not connected. Gear Down can be reached at 877-432-7369.

Passive anti-theft system

Recognizing that noisy alarm sirens are often ignored, due to the commonality of false alarms, Magtec 3000 instead has focused their security system on shutting down as many as four electrical circuits. The result is a truck (and load) that can't be driven away.

Their "Truck Immobilizer" system incorporates a "tamper proof" radial lock with millions of possible combinations. Similarly, in-dash installation is customized, preventing a thief from learning Magtec's procedures and defeating the system. Since 1991, the company claims there has not been one report of a successful theft. Call 888-624-8320 for more information.

An "Unpickable" Lock

Family owned and operated, R/S Security Systems, Inc. specializes in transportation security for cargo and freight. Their Landing Gear Lock (used to keep your landing gear down) is constructed from stainless steel, and they guarantee it to be unpickable or rekeyable by anyone. Installation of the product is easily done, preventing your rig from being out of operation for a long period of time.

R/S Security is reportedly working with insurance companies to negotiate lower premiums for those who use their product. To speak to the inventors of this landing gear lock, call 800-304-0138.