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Podcast

How Multifunctional Brake and Marker Lights Save Lives

Learn how Intellistop can lower the percentage of rear-end collisions and save lives.

Episode 223: 30% of motor vehicle collisions that lead to a fatality are caused by rear-end collisions. How can we get that number to decrease?

My guest today is Bill Morgan the VP of Sales at Intellistop.  

My guest today is Bill Morgan the VP of Sales at Intellistop.  In this episode, learn how Intellistop can lower the percentage of rear-end collisions and save lives.

Guest Website: IntellistopUSA.com

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile. Did you know that 30% of motor vehicle collisions that lead to a fatality are rear end collisions? How can we get that number to decrease? And what impact could an adjustment in technology on trailers have on reducing that number? Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about today. And I am looking forward to having our guest talk about their technology and how that might save lives. So Bill Morgan is the VP of Sales at Intellistop. Bill, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Bill Morgan:

Jamie, thanks for having me.

Jamie Irvine:

So a little bit of a somber note that we start this episode on that when there are fatalities, 30% of them are rear end collisions. That’s a big number. That’s a lot of people’s lives lost and you’ve really in your company are fighting the good fight to try to change that. So, first of all, just for people who maybe aren’t familiar with your company and what you do, what is Intellistop and how does it work?

Bill Morgan:

Great question Jamie, Intellistop is a module that turns brake and marker lights into multifunction. So what multifunction means is we’re gonna take, and we pulse the existing brake and marker lights on the trailer four times in under one second. So they’re gonna, it makes them dual function at that point and getting the trailing driver’s attention.

Jamie Irvine:

I remember when I was selling heavy-duty parts. And I remember back when the LED lights came out, there were a lot of studies about the difference between the incandescent lights and how quickly from the moment the person hits the brake pedal to the light illuminating and how these LEDs were so much faster. And that definitely was part of helping to save lives, but it hasn’t been enough to really eliminate this problem. So the technology that you’re putting in is now kind of stacking on top of that. Do I have that right?

Bill Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely. Right. We wanted to make it simple. We wanted to make it simple for the people that are maintaining the vehicles, installing the equipment, but also too, for the safety guys that are concerned about these numbers, it all affects their CSA scores. It can really make an impact on your fleet. It’s just such a simple way for them to come and make an impact.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. So let’s talk about the actual investment and the time to install. So what exactly is being installed? How long does it take, can a tech do it on his own? Do they need special tools, like give us some insight into the way that your product is used.

Bill Morgan:

So with our product we implemented the kiss method. You familiar with the kiss method?

Jamie Irvine:

Keep it simple.

Bill Morgan:

That’s right. That’s right. We wanted to keep it simple because safety I’ve seen this time and time again, safety will be like, Hey, this is great technology, we want to utilize it. You know, we can really save a lot of money and then it gets in the hands of maintenance and they’re like, wait a minute, hold on three hours to install this, yeah, this is not cost effective. So with our product, it installs in less than five minutes. What we do is it goes in the seven way nose box on the trailer. Okay. It’s basically goes in line with the, uh, with the brake light wires coming off the back of the seven way, going to the lights. And again, less than five minutes, we’re utilizing existing brake and marker lights. And because we’re pulsing, we maintain the burn on existing brake lamps as well.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So the lights that are are installed on these trailers are weren’t originally designed to do the pulse thing. Is there any issues that happen with maintenance? First of all, on the actual technology you’re putting in the nose box, and second of all, is there any downstream issues that are caused that someone would have to be worried about?

Bill Morgan:

No different than basically a driver tap in his brake. So you’re gonna see the same wear times as you know, you would with normal brake light up operations. I don’t see any issues there. So when it comes to maintenance intervals, we have zero maintenance intervals on our product. Okay. Our product is conformal coded. It’s a module, that’s all it is. It’s dipped. It’s built right in the United States on top of the conformal coating and being dipped. It is also installed in the seven way nose box, because we know that the trailers are exposed to harsh conditions on the road. So it’s an additional protection to this, but once it’s installed, there’s no additional maintenance to this. And when it comes to the, you know, the five minutes or less, you know, Jamie, we’re also seeing nose boxes where those bolts get corroded, you know, those older trailers, it might take a little bit longer.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Okay. We’re gonna talk more about this after our break will be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesel, laptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high-quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line, which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were getting an introduction to the Intellistop product and what it does, really pulsing those rear taillights and markers to try to make motorist behind the trailer, aware that the truck and trailer is stopping. And so just reducing the chance of a fatality from a rear end collision. And as we talked about 30% of collisions that lead to a fatality are rear end collisions. So this is an important thing that we have to address. I wanted to talk to you about the reality of where we are with using your technology. Now there are specific trailer applications that can, and can’t use your technology. Can you just explain that to us a little bit?

Bill Morgan:

Great question. Yes. So according to FMCSA, there is an exemption out there for the NTTC and people that aren’t familiar with. NTTC, it’s the National Tank Truck Carriers. Tankers, they’ve been running this technology probably the longest. It started with Groendyke, they did a study running an amber strobing light on the back of their trailers and saw a 33% reduction in rear end collisions by running an amber strobing light on their trailers when the brakes were applied, that’s where this all started. Then NTTC went out and they applied for an exemption for all the tank truck carriers to allow them to run pulsating brake lamps, and the way that it reads that it needs to be in the upper center or dual outboard position of the trailer to pulse. Well, we have the upper center with the marker lights. We utilize the marker lights and the dual outboard is gonna be your turn signals and your brake lamp as well. So we, we can legally operate our product on the NTTC under the NTTC exemption. Now, when it comes to a drive-in or reefer flatbed, it has not been approved to run on that yet.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So that’s a fight that right now the trucking industry is pushing for, to try to save lives and make that available to all of the applications. Is that correct?

Bill Morgan:

That is correct. Yeah. We have a bunch of fleets that are in our corner on this, but I think the biggest thing that we’re fighting is really the, the studies and the data that they’ve like already generated. And NHTSA did a study back in 2010, and I’d love to, I actually have it. I’d love to share it with you to look at it because it’s a great study. And I have some FMCSA statistics as well, showing, you know, rear end collisions with, from passenger vehicles, rear ending large trucks and large truck rear ending passenger vehicles, showing the fatality, showing the injuries, the breakdowns and the technology. I mean we put a lot of thought into it when it came to this and looking at those studies.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. So what is the thing that’s holding us back? Is it just, is it just bureaucracy and red tape? Is it conflicting data that needs to be resolved because of like a statistical anomalies in the data? Or what’s the deal there?

Bill Morgan:

Honestly, it’s bureaucracy a hundred percent. I mean, NHTSA put out a study in 2010.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. Last time I checked it 2022, that was 12 years ago.

Bill Morgan:

I know it was 12 years ago. 12. Yeah. You’re absolutely right. I mean distracted driving is on the rise. We know this. People grab their phones and they’re driving on the road and they’re like, they’re texting and driving. We know this, we see this every day. Okay. And NHTSA did the study in 2010 and they based it on distracted driving, using GPS, messing with the radio, whatever it was. Their study, they wanted to see, okay our existing current regulations showing steady burning. All right, incandescent steady burning even LEDs. When the approaching driver is approaching a a vehicle and he’s distracted and that forward vehicle stopping with a steady burn, no pulse, no flash, no nothing, 0% increase in reaction time by the trailing driver. That’s what the study showed. Then what they did is they looked at pulsing and flashing light.

Bill Morgan:

They looked at, okay, well, we’re gonna flash all these lights when the drivers distracted coming towards that forward vehicle that is stopping. And the numbers were pretty drastic. I mean, they’ve seen a 70% increase in reaction time from the trailing driver when distracted, when all the lamps are pulsing or flashing, and I’m sitting here going, why is this taking so long for them to pass our exemption? It’s common sense. We’re not adding any more lights. We’re not adding even more cost. I mean, proof’s in your data. Look at it. I mean, we’re just asking to try it, test it.

Jamie Irvine:

Well. And you know, obviously the human cost of the loss of human life is the most important factor, but secondary to that, but very important to the trucking industry is the cost of collisions like between nuclear verdicts and the cost. Just even if there’s nothing, in the way of a verdict against you, just being in a collision in itself is very cost prohibitive to fleet. So like, let’s talk about that a little bit because the trucking industry should be very motivated to have this solution regardless of the vocation?

Bill Morgan:

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I mean, what last July, we had a 1 billion nuclear verdict, 1 billion. It was like 900 million in punitive damages that, wow, like what can we do to reduce that? And our product is a simple, you know, easy install, cost-effective solution that can help reduce this. And the thing that I don’t think people don’t think about is, all right, trailer gets rear-ended right now, it’s down. But the other factor is too, when a car rear-ends that trailer they’re gonna take and they’re gonna rip it apart. They’re gonna dig into it. They’re gonna try to find something wrong with that trailer or tractor. It doesn’t matter. That’s what people don’t realize. Oh, it’s just pulsating brake lamps. Okay. Well, I’m seeing a 70% increase in trailing driver’s reaction time when distracted our product can help with this. We’re seeing a 33% rear end reduction from the Groendyke studies on amber. When amber can go two ways, it can be stop or go where ours is red, we’re using the existing brake lamps. This can really benefit the fleets. Hey, I got a trailer that’s down. What’s the cost on that trailer being down, you know, now you gotta wait and they get a supply chain issue going on today. When are you gonna get your parts? How long is that trailer gonna be down? You

Jamie Irvine:

Lose a trailer. It’s like, that’s devastating because it’s like, I can’t get a new trailer, so I can’t even replace it. So once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Bill Morgan:

Absolutely. Right. You know, I mean, and when I was running a shop as a fleet fleet maintenance manager, our goal was we wanted to see the trailers within 90 days, right. Try to touch them every 90 days. We were lucky, I mean, it was good if we seen them every six months, but in reality, we were only seeing them maybe once a year for those annuals and the work that needed to be done, it was insane. You know, but to take it a step further, look at, we have this push for autonomous vehicles too coming. Right. That’s great. The truck’s going to drive itself, well guess what, Jamie, we still have a trailer that’s connected to that truck. That’s how it works. And if you look at some of the studies that NHTSA has put out along with some of the other publications, you’ve probably seen, anytime there’s an accident with an autonomous vehicle, it’s someone rear-ending that autonomous vehicle.

Bill Morgan:

Yeah. So our product works with that too. It goes hand in hand. So I have a Subaru. And when you’re approaching that forward vehicle and you’re coming in too fast, right. What’ll happen is they have, what’s called a heads up display. So it reflects off the windshield. It will start flashing red on the windshield, right in your face. Volvo has this on their new VNRs as well, their heads up display, they call it. And that’s exactly what it’ll do. It’s getting the driver’s attention. It’s a driver assistance system. It is not there to replace the drivers yet today. So we’re just doing this. I guess you can look at it this way and say Intellistop is a more cost effective solution to add to the collision mitigation, breaking systems. Not everyone can afford collision mitigation, breaking on their cars. We can’t even get cars right now. I don’t know what it’s like in Canada, but down here in the states used cars are there, but could look finding a new one.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, and to me, the logic of your technology is the same as those heads up displays. It’s the same logic. It’s like get people’s attention right in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Bill Morgan:

The other thing that most people don’t think about, and actually I met with a large national fleet. And the thing that they really liked about our product the most was that we pulsed the upper marker light on the trailer. So with that, put yourself on a six lane interstate. Okay. And traffic is backing up. And we’ve all been there where you’re say you’re in a small SUV or even a car. And you have a pickup truck in front of you or a box truck. Well, I can’t see if anyone’s braking in front of me where us, you can see the marker lights. I mean, no matter how many vehicles are behind them, I can see that, hey, that, that semi that’s up there is slowing down.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s a good point because also of weather. So if it was just the lights down low, even just like heavy rain or snow and sleet could reduce the amount of visibility of those pulsing lights. But because it’s up high and down low, you’re gonna see it. I mean, there’s no way around that. You’re going to see it.

Bill Morgan:

Absolutely. Right. You know, watched this movie recently called The Kid on Disney and he met an eight year old version of himself, right. And the eight year old asked he goes, Hey, why is the moon orange? And I’m like, that’s a good question. Like sometimes it’s orange, when it comes up, the reason why is actually the blue light, it’s gonna scatter is what happens when that’s coming through. But the red light actually makes it through red has the longest wavelength that’s out there. So if you’re ever driving in rainstorm, what happens if it starts pouring really hard, first people to put on their hazards is the truck driver. Like they wanna be seen, they wanna be noticed, same thing. So when we’re traveling in fog, whether we’re traveling in rain, when we’re braking that the pulsing is gonna make sure that those, the wavelength of the light makes it through.

Jamie Irvine:

So if there is someone out there who’s like running tankers and they want to do this, what’s their process. How do they get your product? Is it something they buy through a distributor or do they buy it direct? Or how does that work?

Bill Morgan:

So currently today they’re gonna buy direct from us. We have distributors that are gonna be coming on shortly lined up. We’re just waiting for that exemption to go through. Once that exemption goes through, then we can take and bring these distributors on. We don’t wanna bring them on until we have that exemption.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Bill Morgan, the VP of Sales at Intellistop to learn more and to buy the product. You can go to their website Intellistopusa.com. We’ll make sure that the links are in the show notes. Bill, thank you so much for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Bill Morgan:

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

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