New highway signs warn drivers of upcoming slow-downs | Recalls from three truck makers

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024:

Ohio installing new tech to warn of upcoming traffic slow-downs

Ohio traffic slow-down signCameras at certain high-congestion sites across Ohio will detect slow or stopped traffic and automatically trigger a message board, like the one shown here, to alert drivers of the upcoming slow-down.Ohio DOT

The Ohio Department of Transportation is planning to launch a new technology that will detect traffic congestion and warn drivers of dangerous slow-downs.

The new warning systems will be installed at 13 highway sites in and around major urban centers that have been identified by ODOT as high-congestion, high-crash areas. When cameras at these sites detect slow or stopped traffic, they will automatically trigger a message board a few miles away to alert approaching drivers of the upcoming hazard. Alerts will also be pushed to OHGO and other traffic apps.

Said Governor Mike DeWine. "Although we're confident that these warning systems will help prevent crashes, there is still no substitute for safe driving. For these signs to be effective, drivers must be paying attention."

The new warning systems are specifically geared at reducing deadly “end-of-queue” crashes that occur when highway drivers fail to recognize slowing or stopped traffic, resulting in a collision with vehicles at the end of the slow-down.

According to ODOT, end-of-queue highway crashes have been increasing over the past three years -- to 8,811 crashes in 2023. Once the technology is installed at all 13 sites, ODOT anticipates it will help reduce these rear-end crashes by at least 16%, which equates to a reduction of around 1,400 crashes.

ODOT activated the first of these 13 automatic traffic queue warning systems last week on I-70 westbound at State Route 310 in Licking County near the site of the November 2023 fatal rear-end crash involving a charter bus carrying students from the Tuscarawas Valley Local School District. All 13 sites were selected based on factors such as traffic congestion and the number and severity of rear-end crashes.

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The warning systems use technology to similar to that in ODOT's wrong-way driver detection systems currently in place in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus that alert drivers who mistake exit ramps for on-ramps. So far, these systems have detected nearly 300 wrong-way drivers.

When accounting for the time necessary to run needed electrical and broadband infrastructure to the 12 remaining automated warning system sites, ODOT expects all systems to be operational within two years. ODOT is evaluating highway locations in other parts of the state that might benefit, too. 

[Related: POLL: Your choice for the absolute worst freight bottleneck nationwide?]

Nearly 900 Internationals, small number of Freightliners recalled over steering gear assemblies

The same steering gear assembly issue that prompted the recall of more than 47,000 Kenworth and Peterbilt tractors has now resulted in the recall of 893 International trucks and 11 Freightliner units, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

In the affected units, the steering gear assemblies may have been assembled incorrectly with fewer recirculating balls than are required, which may result in a loss of steering control.

International’s recall includes certain model year 2024 International HX, LT and RH trucks, and 2024-‘25 International HV and MV trucks, as well as some 2024 IC Bus commercial buses.

The suspect population was identified by models equipped with R. H. Sheppard M100P, M110P, HD94P, XD120P, MD83, SD110P, M83P, and M94S model steering gears.

Dealers will inspect and replace the defective gears, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 18. Owners can contact Navistar's customer service at 800-448-7825 with recall number 24503. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-088.

Freightliner’s recall includes approximately 11 model year 2024 Freightliner Cascadia and Freightliner Custom Chassis MT45G and MT45 units.

Dealers will replace the steering gears, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 8. Owners can contact Daimler Trucks North America customer service at 800-745-8000 with recall number FL995. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-093.

[Related: Steering issue prompts big Kenworth, Peterbilt recall: More than 47K trucks]

Western Stars recalled over suspension issue

Daimler Trucks North America is recalling just shy of 50 model year 2022-‘24 Western Star 49X trucks. In the affected units, the the suspension hanger may fail due to missing welds, which can result in difficulty steering and maintaining the direction of the front two wheels.

DTNA said the torque rods on the affected trucks are attached to a slippered suspension hanger. The hanger is missing certain welds, which may then concentrate strain in the welded areas of the part. Over time, this may cause the welded areas to fatigue and crack, and the part could eventually fail.

The remedy for the issue is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 8. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 800-745-8000 with recall number FL994. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-084.

Total Distribution, Inc. has acquired Swafford Trucking, other assets

Total Distribution Inc. (TDI), a subsidiary of Peoples Services Inc. (PSI), has acquired the assets of Swafford Trucking Inc., Swafford Warehousing Inc., and Swafford Transportation Inc., based in Greer, Spartanburg and Greenville, South Carolina, the companies announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

TDI CEO Doug Sibila said adding the high-quality Swafford companies and services to his company's existing network will improve service levels and flexibility to PSI and Swafford’s current customers, and continues the strategy of further diversifying and expanding the services offered by TDI and its affiliates.

“As founder of Swafford Companies, my goal was simple: to build a company based on a high level of professional services," said Van Swafford, founder of the Swafford companies. "Good fortune and great customers, some for decades, have guided us to reach our accomplishments."

TDI, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PSI headquartered in Canton, Ohio, is a third-party logistics and warehouse provider. The combined TDI and PSI businesses operate over 10 million square feet of contract and public warehouse space located in 50 facilities in eight states including Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. The PSI network offers a range of specialized material handling and storage services including many value-added activities such as drumming, milling, tolling, packaging, kitting, inventory management, transloading, cross docking, transportation and brokerage services.