Rolf Lockwood

February 25, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 3

There are still tales to tell after spending a few days in Orlando at the annual meeting of the Technology and Maintenance Council, not least of which was a convincing on-track demonstration of Meritor WABCO’s OnGuard collision-avoidance system first introduced last summer.

I’ll get to that in a minute, but in the meantime I also had a couple of Texas days at Peterbilt’s plant and head office in Denton. The big news there was a new aerodynamic package for Model 384 and 386 trucks, available on new vehicles but also in retrofit form. A similar kit for the classic 388, 389 and even the earlier 378 and 379. It’s all very cool, the result of many hours of careful testing and analysis, and the feeling I came away with is that it’s amazing how apparently small changes can reap big rewards in cutting aero drag. See the first of the new product items below for more details — like the promised 12% fuel economy gain.

Elsewhere, I’m a bit disturbed to realize that a lot of people seem not to understand what’s going on inside California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) with respect to emissions from auxiliary power systems and trailer refrigeration units. I can’t claim to be an expert here but I’ll explore this a little today.

And finally, I’ve learned a little more about Navistar’s coming big-bore engine, the Maxxforce 15, the basis of which will be Caterpillar’s C15.

ONGUARD IS THE FIRST COLLISION SAFETY SYSTEM with active braking in North America, says Meritor Wabco. It can automatically maintain a safe following distance and helps avoid or reduce the impact of rear-end collisions by braking as needed. Up to a point — it won’t do a full-bore panic stop, but nobody should need that.

OnGuard uses forward-looking radar sensors to monitor the distance to the moving vehicle ahead, supplementing the truck’s cruise control system. When it sees a potential collision is developing, it sends audible and visual warnings so the driver can react and take corrective action. If he doesn’t, the system will automatically decelerate the truck by throttle control, apply the engine brake, and if necessary, apply the foundation brakes until a safe following distance is re-achieved. Once a safe gap is re-established, it will accelerate again.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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