LEARNING TO OVERCOME OVERTURNING
AGA GAS, the Linde Group industrial gas subsidiary in Sweden, has commenced training its 700 fleet owners and drivers that carry out transport operations on their behalf in defensive driving. The main objective is to provide an opportunity to actually experience what it feels like to overturn.
“We at AGA and Linde have a vision of zero accidents, so it is important that our drivers are trained to prevent accidents,” fleet manager at AGA Region Europe North Lars Johansson says.
“Every accident is one too many. And since we deliver dangerous goods, the effects of overturning can be significant, not only for those involved but also for third parties.”
In an example, a heavy truck and trailer combination accelerates with the speedometer at 30km/h, when the driver is surprised by an obstacle and forced to make a sharp evasive manoeuvre. Despite the low speed, the vehicle swerves violently and the right-side wheels rise from the road. The truck and trailer soon overturn.
In this case, the accident never occurs. At an abandoned air force base not far from Scania’s head office and production centre in Södertälje, Scania and AGA have set up training facilities on the landing strip.
Two Scania trucks have been equipped with training wheels to allow the participants to push the outer limits of the forces involved in simulating overturning.
“This was really enlightening,” tanker truck driver Tobias Attorps says. “To actually get a feel of what it’s like to overturn, I had to force myself to go against every precaution that I normally take.”
Nearly all overturning accidents can be attributed to human factors: to lack of knowledge, to fatigue or to a momentary lack of concentration.
Excessive speed and sharp turns can also cause overturning, which happens all too quickly but can be avoided through following some simple steps.
“This concept is unique,” says Jörgen Kalénius, driver coach at Scania’s Stockholm dealer.
“In reality, the margins for error are much smaller, and we carry out these training exercises with a high degree of control and protection to ensure people’s safety.
“What we wish to convey during the course is what it’s actually like to overturn.
“The participants should know what that feels like and gain a better understanding of the risks involved.”