technology was the difference between life and death
John Carr, a veteran driver with 36 years behind the wheel, had just started as a Crete Carrier driver in 2009 when he was assigned a new Freightliner Cascadia equipped with Meritor WABCO’s OnGuard Collision Safety System.
And what he had heard about OnGuard, he didn’t like.
“The drivers I talked to didn’t want it,” says Carr. “To be honest with you, I was scared of it.”
Carr reports that most drivers simply felt they could react in a quicker, safer manner than any radar-based, forward-looking, active-braking safety system could. And giving up control of the vehicle, if even for just a few seconds, was something most drivers didn’t want to consider.
Of course, none of them had yet experienced active engagement of OnGuard like Carr soon would.
“That day in Atlanta…” he says. “I was in the right lane, traveling 55, when this lady comes from three lanes over, cuts right in front of me and throws on her brakes because that’s where she was going to exit. She had two little children in that car, and I know, because she was this far in front of me,” he adds, pointing out a distance less than 10 feet.
Carr was about to experience the active braking of OnGuard for the first time.
“OnGuard shut that truck just about completely down and completely avoided an accident,” he says. “I was amazed. I’ve got years of experience and I have excellent reaction time, but there’s no way I could have stopped that truck.”
The driver of the car and her children drove away, fully unaware of the dramatic near-miss behind them. But the event left quite an impression on Carr, who would soon see OnGuard at work again. A driver instructor for Crete, Carr was guiding an inexperienced trainee through Memphis traffic a few weeks later when a similar incident occurred, and OnGuard’s active braking was instrumental in helping the driver avoid another potentially tragic accident.
“Those drivers used to say OnGuard was dangerous,” he says. “What’s dangerous is to not have it. I know I’ve sure come to rely on it, and the other drivers are real comfortable with it too. If I get in a truck without it, it’s like going outside and you’ve forgot to put your shirt on or shoes. You want to know you have it.”
A mother and two children in Atlanta, although they may not know it, should be very happy that Carr has it, too.
“If I had run over that woman and her children, I tell you what, I don’t know if I’d be driving a truck today,” Carr says. “I would have walked away from this business. I truly believe those three people are alive today because of OnGuard.
“Whatever this company paid to invest in OnGuard, it paid for itself that day in Atlanta.”