FORT COBB, Okla. (KFOR) — Instructors teach every new semi-truck driver to go through a checklist called a Pre-Trip before climbing behind the wheel.
That’s what Jiles Barber and student Ethan Hawks were doing as we watched on a cold February morning at the Caddo Kiowa Technology Center.
But there is one potential safety hazard no driver, trainee or veteran, can see on a walk-through inspection like this.
Billy Turner knows that all too well.
“You can’t see inside these hubs,” he says. “You’re a driver. You’re not a mechanic.”
He once owned a company that had 20 trucks on the road.
One of his drivers had a ‘wheel off’ incident that didn’t cause injury but could have.
Showing a damaged axle and wheel hub assembly he says, “You can see that bearing failed and chewed all of this up. It melts the nut off the end of it and then there’s nothing to hold the wheel assembly on.”
These types of incidents happen more often than you might think.
This one occurred recently on Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City, killing an SUV driver.
Another accident in 2002 took the life of Josh Walker’s best friend.
Justin Sullivan was an All-State baseball player from Yukon, killed instantly when a semi wheel came loose on the freeway.
“It happened so fast,” recalls Walker. “It hit us head-on and sent us spinning across all the lanes of traffic. It was literally the blink of an eye and everything changed. Life just changed that fast.”
After the incident with his own driver, Billy called around to see if anyone had a system to keep these tragedies from happening.
Turner insists, “There wasn’t anything out there.”
So he went to work, eventually building and testing what he and his partners are calling the TetherTech Safety System.
It’s a thick cable that connects through the hollow trailer axle and binds the wheels onto the trailer with two outer hubs.
Even if the bearing fails the wheel won’t fly off.
Turner claims, “You’re not going to lose your wheel assembly anymore. It’s not going to fly off and cause anybody harm.”
Billy’s partner Troy Miller hopes TetherTech sweeps the trucking industry.
“This is a huge game-changer,” he says.
TetherTech is just getting started as a business.
People like Josh Walker, especially, hope it’s installed in every rig on the road.
He says, “I’m grateful for every day.”
Both Turner and Miller say their system is easily installed.
For more information on their idea go to their website.