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Veteran trucker invents state-of-the-art, lighted safety flap

Tim Adams says trailer mud flap can prevent accidents, save lives

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Inventor, businessman and veteran truck driver Tim Adams has been tinkering with ideas for inventions much of his life. Now in his early 60s, he believes he has a product that could revolutionize trucking. It’s a one-of-a-kind mud flap for tractor-trailers, one which Adams believes can reduce accidents and save lives.

“I drive for a living, and I’ve been out there,” Adams, from Novato, California, told FreightWaves. “I know what it can do to help everybody on the highway.”

We Care Safety Flaps are made of vulcanized rubber with a built-in group of LED lights. Adams said the lights make his flaps more functional than standard flaps by offering increased visibility.

Tail lights on trucks and trailers can be difficult to see at dusk, as well as in fog, rain and snow. The lights on Adams’ flaps are large, bright and easy for other motorists to see when they are driving behind or passing large trucks.

“These are right in their line of vision, down at their level where they can see,” Adams added. “It’s prominent. It’s not just a little, dinky light. So, it’s gotta make a difference.”

The idea was inspired by Adams’ 40 years on the road, in addition to a promise he made to his dying mother several years ago. Adams said she cared deeply about other people, and he wanted to do something to keep her legacy alive.

We Care Safety Flaps working model. (Photo: Tim Adams/We Care Safety Flaps)

“This didn’t come from the wallet. This came from the heart,” Adams said. “An accident is only the beginning, and it’s collateral damage from that point on. Everybody is affected by it, whether it’s right then and there, or if it’s a company or if it’s fellow workers or if it’s the families or you lose your job.”

Adams spent years researching and developing a working model, and he owns the patent on his product. He is hoping to pin down a manufacturer and potential buyers this year. Adams has been able to drum up interest from a few companies so far.

“Ideally, what I would do is license up with a manufacturer that is already established, that is ready to ‘turn and burn’ these,” Adams explained. “You know, turnkey.”

Each set of lights on We Care Safety Flaps is connected to the corresponding circuit in the truck’s wiring system, with connecting plugs featuring a water-tight seal. They are color-coded, and include turn signals, back-up lights, running lights, brake lights, flashers and emergency arrows. Adams insists that these lights would make truckers’ intentions clear to other drivers on the road.

The design has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and even has a quick disconnect feature. So, if something pulls the flap loose, the truck’s wiring will not be compromised.

Adams is confident his invention would not only improve safety, but would also boost carriers’ bottom lines as a result. In addition to trucking, they could be used across a range of other industries and customers such as mass transit, school systems, refuse companies, the military and agriculture.

“I hope one day that we all see these things on there, and that they’re doing their job,” Adams said.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.