The Audible Alert System sends a tone to the driver to warn of an accident to be avoided.
PPI conducted a private test of the system at Homestead-Miami Speedway during a General Motors testing session.
Using the latest wireless technology, small receivers are placed in each car, which alert the drivers of hazardous track conditions. The system can also be used to signal a return to green flag racing, which can improve restarts. "It's like having the same spotter for every driver on the track," Skeen says. "Unlike radios, all of the drivers receive the same benefit without any opportunity for abuse or advantage.
"The spotter is following the driver during competition. It is the job of the spotter to keep an eye on the car and he is not always going to be as easily aware of what's going where his driver isn't. We can wire the spotter to cover the back end of the driver. When the spotter hears the tone, he can look forward for the situation. We can also develop a separate tone for fire."
Skeen says the system is designed to eliminate the secondary accident. Tracks purchase the transmitters, which are activated by a track official. The responsibility for the receivers rests with the competitor, though some tracks may want to lease them to their drivers.
Skeen sees advantages to utilizing the ears more than the eyes. "You notice a tone quicker than you will a light," he says. "We use low-band CB frequency to get the tone broadcast." The company adds that warning lights continue some of the risks already contributing to the problems. Drivers may be focused on racing action and not notice the yellow lights or flags of the track. Lights can be burned out or insignificantly placed around the track.
The Audible Alert System is compatible with radios, eliminating an "either/or" situation, making it possible to absorb a double layer of safety. It will also work in places where radio communication between driver and crew is not allowed.
No idea that utilizes the infallible human will be perfect. While there may be some imperfections (depending upon interpretation), the clear and present danger is lack of action. High profile accidents lead to a heightening of awareness as to a need for improvement. These two products offer an opportunity to take that step before the next accident leads to financial or human loss.
All parties agree. This is not a "dollars and cents" issue, but an issue that transcends that. It's an issue of saving lives. Doing nothing results in nothing. Installation of a driver alert system can make a difference.