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DMV Device Puts the Brakes on Dangerous Trucks

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ORANGE COUNTY — If your nerves are rattled when you see a big rig coming up behind you in the rear-view mirror, the Division of Motor Vehicles hopes to ease your fears that big trucks may have bad brakes.

The DMV is using a device from the Persian Gulf War to make highways safer. The infrared camera sees heat on truck tires -- white rings on the television screen mean the truck's brakes are working. If the officer does not see those rings, the truck is pulled over immediately for an inspection.

The DMV uses the cameras to catch dangerous tractor-trailers before they get to you.

"Unfortunately, it's a very deadly situation. The truck could weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, and when that slams into a passenger vehicle, that can do a lot of damage," the DMV's Jon Parks said.

North Carolina is a trucking hub, with three interstates crossing the Triangle area alone. That heavy traffic results in more deaths in accidents involving big trucks -- the state is ranked fourth in the nation for the most fatal truck crashes.

DMV officials hope drivers will feel more at ease when they share the highway with 18-wheelers.

"It can be a frightening situation," Parks said. "Our goal is to create a safe situation, to create safety on the road and make sure those trucks that are out there driving on the road are as safe as they can possibly be."

It used to take DMV officers 45 minutes to randomly pull over and inspect one truck. They now can check several hundred trucks in the same amount of time.


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