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Driver Blames Beer Truck Accident On Safety System

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Two truckers whose rig crashed last week on the ramp at Highway 58 and Interstate 70 want to send out a warning about a built-in braking system used in many trucks.

Ray Johnson and his wife Lee, both California residents, say the truck safety system OnGuard is to blame for the July 25 wreck in Wheat Ridge that caused major traffic backups.

Ray was the driver of the truck carrying beer and Lee was his co-driver, and although they only had very minor injuries the experience was quite frightening.

“It was just terrible,” Johnson said.

“It was very, very scary,” Lee said.

Their big rig wound up dangling off the highway and lots of beer spilled. Wheat Ridge police investigators concluded Johnson “exceeded the safe speed.”

“Were you taking the curve too fast?” CBS4’s Jodi Brooks asked Johnson.

Ray Johnson (credit: CBS)

Ray Johnson (credit: CBS)

“No, it was impossible to take that curve too fast,” Johnson said.

OnGuard is essentially radar sensor technology that detects a potential collision and sends a warning and then activates the braking system. The couple says they first complained about the system about a month ago.

“So there was no beeping?” Brooks asked, referring to what happened before the July 25 crash.

“Nope,” said Johnson.

“No warning? No alarm going off?” Brooks asked.

“Nope,” said Johnson.

“It just slammed on the brakes?” Brooks asked.

“It just slammed on the brakes, and that was the worst possible time,” Johnson said.

The cab brakes locked and the weight of the trailer kept going.

Ray and Lee Johnson claim OnGuard read the curve as another vehicle.

“The guardrail actually curves around and it’s in front of the truck as you’re coming into that curve. And we think it probably keyed on that guardrail. It’s about as high as a bumper, that guardrail,” Lee said.

Every time OnGuard is challeged it wins. OnGuard says a system failure has never been proven.

Will Schafer is a fleet manager with a company called Transwest Truck Trailer RV and he sells OnGuard.

“The OnGuard system senses how far the vehicle is ahead of you,” Schafer told CBS4.

“Every system has the ability to have a failure,” Schafer said. “I know in this case there are other people who have blamed the system.”

An investigation into the truck crash is continuing.

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