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A new point of view

EDMONTON, Alta. -- Many of the truckers who brave northern Alberta's highways in support of the province's booming oil and gas industry accept the notion that every now and then, the fur is going to f...




EDMONTON, Alta. — Many of the truckers who brave northern Alberta’s highways in support of the province’s booming oil and gas industry accept the notion that every now and then, the fur is going to fly.

Unfortunately the most recent statistics show that more than 9,000 animals were killed on Alberta highways in 1999 alone. So any trucker hauling loads outside the city limits runs with a certain amount of risk.

The problem is most of the animals roam the highways and byways at night when they are hard to see before they become one with the grille. Edmonton, Alta.-based Premay, a division of Mullen Transportation, has reasoned that if you could see in the dark, the number of connections would drop dramatically. And that’s what it has decided to do.

It is the first Canadian fleet to spec and take delivery of a new night vision-equipped Kenworth C500.

The Bendix XVision system uses infrared technology to increase a driver’s nighttime vision by five times the normal distance, alerting them to wildlife that is as far as 1,500 feet ahead. Premay is hoping the increased response time will help their drivers avoid potentially deadly collisions.

“It will certainly allow our drivers to take evasive action to avoid any sort of incident,” says Richard Maloney, Premay’s business development representative. “Certainly anything we can do as an organization that will enhance our safety program will be looked at, and we will institute new technology when and where we can.”

Although only one-third of all trucking is done at night, that is when more than one-half of all accidents take place. A company like Premay, which frequently travels highways in the northern-most parts of the province, encounters more than its fair share of Mother Nature’s creations.

“One of the major roads of concern is the one going up from Edmonton to the Grande Prairie area, which has been affectionately called ‘Moose Road’,” says Maloney. “I think a number of trucking companies have had the misfortune of having incidents on that road and we genuinely believe that this will assist us in mitigating that.”

In addition to being a traumatic experience for drivers, truck/wildlife collisions can be costly for fleets.

“If we hit a moose, we’ve seen claims go from $10,000 to $30,000, and we’re seeing repair time being six weeks at a time, so certainly issues of downtime are a major concern to us,” says Maloney.

Kenworth sales representative, Simon Selbie, was the one who hooked Premay up with the new technology. He says the XVision system is ideal for fleets that run northern Alberta’s highways – or anywhere off the beaten trail for that matter.

“Basically, it’s designed for wildlife, so somebody who is operating in remote areas is going to get a lot more use out of it than somebody in Los Angeles,” says Selbie.

The truck, which was built in Seattle, Wash., is one of only a few across the country that have been spec’d with the new technology.

“Mullen have one that isn’t installed yet, but to the best of my knowledge these are the only two that are in Canada,” says Selbie. “It’s still in its formative stages and has not been released for general production at this time.”

Premay will share information with its corporate parent. “Certainly we have to go through a testing period, but we are very optimistic that the expense is going to pay off in the long run,” says Maloney. “I genuinely believe that if this works out, more of our trucks will be equipped with this technology.” n


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