By James Menzies WINNIPEG, Man. - owner/operator Kent Harvie hand-bombed a couple hundred 50-lb bags of salt onto his flatdeck following another close call with a moose, he knew he had to find a solut...
By James Menzies WINNIPEG, Man. – owner/operator Kent Harvie hand-bombed a couple hundred 50-lb bags of salt onto his flatdeck following another close call with a moose, he knew he had to find a solution.
It wasn’t his first run-in with a moose, and while he didn’t make contact with the beast, he still scattered part of his load all over the Northern Ontario highway while making an evasive maneuver.
To make matters worse, the constant threat of a collision began to stress Harvie out and fatigue became a constant battle when driving at night-time.
“I was starting to get really fatigued at night. I over-concentrated and three or four hours a night – that was it for me,” he recalled. Harvie began searching for a solution to prevent wildlife collisions. The obvious one was the moose-bumper, which is already widely used in the north.
“But that doesn’t cure the problem,” he said. “You still end up hitting the moose and still end up getting damaged.”
In researching the problem, Harvie learned of night-vision cameras that were initially being sold to the OPP for their helicopters some 20 years ago.
Like something out of a James Bond flick, they detect heat and project clear images onto a dashmounted camera.
Harvie decided the same technology could be used in trucks to reduce wildlife collisions and he set about obtaining a patent. Unfortunately for him, he eventually found out the technology was already patented in the US under the name PathFindIR.
So he struck up a deal to become the Canadian distributor and more importantly, the company’s first Canadian customer in the trucking industry.
Harvie says he now sees about five to 15 moose each night on his regular run between Toronto and Winnipeg.
“I never did before I had the camera; they’re there, you just don’t see them,” he said. “I would say, since last summer it has probably saved me from about five direct hits.”
Harvie has the camera mounted on the roof of his truck and he insisted there have been no reliability issues, even in temperatures of -40 C. The camera’s lens is heated so snow and ice doesn’t obstruct its view and it is also waterproof. It has a wide-angle view, so animals at the side of the road are detected.
Inside his cab, he has a small black and white monitor mounted on the dash. It shows the road ahead and displays anything that generates heat in a bright white light.
The camera has a range of about 2,000 feet compared to the typical high-beam headlight range of 450 feet, according to company literature.
While both the camera and monitor can be mounted anywhere, Harvie likes having the camera mounted high so it offers a view over any approaching hills so he can see what lies beyond before cresting the hill.
“It just buys me a few extra seconds,” he explained.
Installation is simple, he said. The system taps into a truck’s existing 12-volt wiring. The package comes with mounting brackets and all other hardware required for installation.
Now that he’s convinced the system works, Harvie wants to begin marketing it to owner/operators and fleets.
The fleet he drives for is currently testing the cameras on company-owned units that run in Northern Ontario. Harvie said the 500-truck fleet shells out about $250,000 per year to repair damages caused by truck-moose collisions. However, the main barrier to getting the units more widely used in the trucking industry is price. It lists for $4,997.
“They are pricey, no question about it,” admitted Harvie. “Until it becomes a little more mainstream, the price is up there, but we’ve secured financing for anybody like myself who isn’t rich.”
Harvie’s company RoadOx has partnered with a financing company in Barrie so customers can sign onto a payment plan which makes the cost a little easier to swallow.
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