Alabama's PSOs hit the road with thermal brake scanners

| 8/6/2002

State public safety officers introduced new thermal imaging devices Aug. 2 to help troopers spot trucks with malfunctioning brakes. Officers plan to use the devices for Level 1 inspections.

According to a published report, the thermal device looks like a handheld video camera, wired to a portable LCD display screen. The camera detects heat in the infrared light spectrum, showing heat spots in bright white on the black-and-white display.

Officers plan to park at locations where trucks apply the brakes, such as highway exit ramps, truckstops and weigh stations, and aim the device at the slowing trucks.

A quick scan would reveal cool, non-functional brakes as black or dark gray shades on the display, Capt. Harry Kearley, commander of the state Motor Carrier Safety Unit said. "Functioning brakes show up in white circles, and brighter, larger spots of white would show brakes that are overheating."

The money for the pricey devices -- $78,000 for seven units -- was provided by a grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Alabama Trucking Association funded the remaining 20 percent.