Organized by Arkansas-Made Brake Signal Device Regulators | Arkansas Business News
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A Fayetteville company has hit a regulatory speed bump with a product designed to reduce tractor-trailer accidents.
Earlier this month, Intellistop Inc. was denied an exemption from a 1960s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rule that requires brake lights to be “steady-burning”.
Intellistop asked for discounts for its motor carrier customers who wanted to purchase and install its product, but feared FMCSA sanctions if they did.
Intellistop manufactured and sold a product that attaches to a wiring harness in the nose box of a semi-trailer. When the driver uses the brakes, instead of the lights staying solid, the device drops the voltage down and then back to its normal voltage, Intellistop CEO Michelle Hanby told Arkansas Business last week.
“This leads drivers to look upwards, to feel that the tractor is either slowing down or stopping,” she said. “So every time the driver applies the brakes, you have that fast, four pulse and it solidifies until they regrow the brakes.”
Studies show that flashing brake lamps reduce rear-end collisions, she said. “And so that’s our goal,” she said.
The company had applied for the exemption in December 2020. And when it didn’t get a reply after more than 560 days, it filed a lawsuit asking the FMCSA to decide.
On October 7, the federal agency rejected the application. Intellistop has appealed that decision to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Intellistop is represented by Stephen Obermeier of Ville Ren LLP, Washington.
Kason Ross, an attorney for the US Justice Department representing the FMCSA, did not return calls for comment.
In a court filing, Intellistop said government and private studies have shown that drivers who see pulsating lights are more likely to apply the brakes than those who see a traditional brake-level signal.
And Hanby said the FMCSA has given four exemptions to its steady burning rule for brake-activated pulsating lamps.
Once exemptions are granted, “a lot of large fleets are very, very interested” in installing the IntelliStop system, she said.
Hanby said in the court filing that one company had planned to purchase a 70,000-unit of Intellistop’s product, but wound up using a competitor after the FMCSA failed to make a decision.
She said the agency’s delay in approving the cost of the waiver cost Intellistop at least $6.9 million in lost revenue.
But some trucking fleets have gone ahead and installed Intellistop’s device, she said. “the risk/reward is more important than easing the rules” [to those trucking companies] Compared to the slight risk of lighting violations,” Hanby said.
The price of the device depends on how many fleets order, but a company will pay a maximum of $159 per truck. It takes about five minutes to install.
Intellistop for its web design and marketing, RCAL Products Inc. of Prairie Grove for manufacturing. and uses the branding and consulting of Orlof of Trinity, North Carolina.
Hanabi has been a champion of automotive safety for years.
In 2013, Hanby launched its first company, Brake Plus NWA Inc. of Fayetteville. Ltd., which sells rear-end collision deterrent systems.
In 2020, it incorporated Intellistop, which has three employees.
“To me, these companies are more than a way to make money,” she said in an announcement included in the lawsuit. “Their mission is close to my heart because my mother was killed by a distracted driver. This is why I pursue vehicle safety.”
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