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DMV Turning Up the Heat on Faulty Truck Brakes

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ORANGE COUNTY — North Carolina is the nation's third busiest state for truck traffic. With so many big rigs on the road, theDivision of Motor Vehiclesis going high-tech to keep our highways safe.

U.S. troops used infrared technology during the Persian Gulf War to find the enemy. Now, the DMV is turning up the heat, using the technology to get dangerous trucks off the road.

IRIS, Infra Red Inspection Systems, uses thermal imaging to spot bad brakes. North Carolina is sharing a federally funded, high-tech truck in a pilot program with four other states.

"We're not picking on anybody here, we are picking out unsafe vehicles," says DMV officer Mike Beyer.

Before the IRIS system, DMV officers would randomly stop trucks to check for dangerous brake problems.

"We can now pinpoint exactly which vehicles have the problems, and therefore it saves manpower, it saves money. Everybody benefits in the long run," Beyer says.

It is all about heat: a hot brake, which appears white on a screen, is working; a cold brake, which appears dark, is out of order.

The IRIS system is keeping inspectors busy, stopping trucks and checking for possible violations.

Inspectors took several trucks off the road Thursday morning. There were six violations in one hour.

Most truck drivers who were stopped say they had no idea their brakes had slipped into the danger zone.

One brake out on an 80,000 pound tractor trailer could be a disaster on the highway. A four-second infrared scan can stop a possible disaster in its tracks.

The infrared truck will be in North Carolina until the end of March. The DMV will then consider whether the IRIS system should become a permanent enforcement tool.