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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Freightliner


March 5, 1998

NHTSA 10-98
Thursday, March 5, 1998
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Freightliner Corporation, the largest heavy truck manufacturer in North America, today announced that Freightliner will donate a truck cab to run on the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS). "Safety is President Clinton's highest transportation priority and this will advance traffic safety," explained NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D. "Over 90 percent of crashes involve human errors. Freightliner's contribution of a cab and extensive engineering support is a valuable investment in safety research."

Dr. Martinez cited the problem of driver fatigue among professional drivers, which is best studied under simulated conditions, as a key part of NHTSA's human behavior research.

"With the rapid integration of advanced technology in cars and trucks today, it is imperative that we gain insight into the demands of the driving task and how it is affected by these additions," said Jim Hebe, president and CEO of Freightliner Corporation. "The NADS will be able to study and utilize innovative technology in the trucking industry to further improve its safety record."

Hebe said Freightliner is no stranger to the benefits of vehicle simulation. The company is owned by Daimler-Benz, which currently operates the world's most advanced driving simulator. Daimler-Benz was previously able to lease unused simulator time to other users, but its simulator proved so useful for design and safety issues that it is now exclusively devoted to company research, Hebe said. The NADS, which is being built for NHTSA by TRW, Inc., and on which construction began in the summer of 1997, will become the foremost driving simulator of the more than a dozen driving simulators operated worldwide. Its large dome will permit the mounting of entire cars and the cabs of trucks and buses with their specific electronic and mechanical instrumentation. At the same time, the motion system, on which the dome will be mounted, will provide 20 meters each of lateral and longitudinal travel and 330 degrees of rotation clockwise and counter-clockwise on the vertical axis.

NHTSA officials said the latest visual display technology and audio systems will immerse the test drivers in sight, sound and movement so real that impending crash scenarios can be convincingly presented with no danger to the subject. Vehicle and driver data can be gathered accurately through multiple channels for later analysis and exact repetition.

The simulator, to be located at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, will be completed in 1999. While NHTSA expects to be the primary user, the simulator will be available for other researchers in government, academia, and industry. Additional information on the NADS is available though NHTSA's web site, at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

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