Driven - - Commercial - Re­port by BERNIE HELLBERG


Roads are be­com­ing busier by the day, and modern on-de­mand life­styles and the rise of e-com­merce mean van and lorry traf­fic is in­creas­ing, fast. De­spite trains do­ing this job for far longer, lor­ries are pi­o­neer­ing the fu­ture of goods trans­port. As road use in­creases, safety be­comes a crit­i­cal fac­tor for all road users, lead­ing to am­bi­tious safety plans such as Volvo’s Vi­sion 2020.

A RAPIDLY CHANG­ING ENVIRONMENT means that more and more goods are mov­ing about the land­scape than ever be­fore, trans­lat­ing to busier roads and more risk for all road users. Lor­ries share the risk with cars, mo­tor­cy­cles, cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans, but of­ten truck drivers have high stan­dards of safety im­posed on them, with lit­tle re­spon­si­bil­ity placed on other road users to act re­spon­si­bly too.

While safety is ev­ery­one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity, Volvo Trucks is lead­ing the way to find solutions to the prob­lem of truck­ing re­lated ac­ci­dents that seems to be on the rise.

Volvo Trucks pi­o­neers road safety for all with a ded­i­cated Volvo Trucks Ac­ci­dent Re­search team whose task it is to con­sider as­pects of traf­fic ac­ci­dents and trans­late the data they re­ceive into us­able in­for­ma­tion for Volvo en­gi­neers and strate­gists.

This ded­i­cated team re­cently com­pleted an in-depth study of road ac­ci­dents in the United King­dom, to find the opin­ions of road users around safety – from car and lorry drivers to cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans. The goal: to fo­cus on peo­ple’s per­cep­tions of lor­ries with a tar­get of ul­ti­mately im­prov­ing road safety.

FIND­ING COM­MON GROUND Although the study was con­ducted in the United King­dom where, ad­mit­tedly, road con­di­tions and road user at­ti­tudes

are vastly dif­fer­ent to the South African ex­pe­ri­ence, there are key points from the study that can eas­ily be im­posed on our lo­cal zeit­geist.

The re­sults of the sur­vey are in­spir­ing, though, and show that other road users recog­nise the role that trucks play in the run­ning of our daily lives, while also ac­knowl­edg­ing the need for greater aware­ness of trucks, by other road users. De­spite more than half of the gen­eral public feel­ing that lor­ries rep­re­sent a risk on UK roads, a vast ma­jor­ity (76%) feel that road safety is the shared re­spon­si­bil­ity of road users.

By car­ry­ing out stud­ies like this, Volvo Trucks can un­der­stand the needs and con­cerns of the road users to ad­dress them bet­ter. The goal, ac­cord­ing to Volvo’s Vi­sion 2020 safety plan, is to reach zero ac­ci­dents. Volvo Trucks recog­nises this is the shared re­spon­si­bil­ity of all road users but is lead­ing by ex­am­ple to help make the roads safer as traf­fic in­creases in the fu­ture. Th­ese ac­tions aim to change lor­ries, drivers, gov­ern­ment poli­cies, reg­u­la­tions, ed­u­ca­tion, aware­ness, re­search and co­op­er­a­tion for a safer fu­ture.


With such a mas­sive chal­lenge ahead, the spot­light falls squarely on what the role of tech­nol­ogy is in mit­i­gat­ing truck ac­ci­dents and thereby im­prov­ing road safety.

While it is true that tech­nol­ogy has a mas­sively im­por­tant role to play in the safety equa­tion, there are lim­its to what tech­nol­ogy can achieve. It is not a fail­safe against hu­man er­ror and should be seen as sup­port rather than so­lu­tion.

Ac­ci­dent sim­u­la­tion is a crit­i­cal tech­no­log­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tion for Volvo Trucks safety re­searchers, who can gain valu­able in­sights from ‘real world’ driv­ing sit­u­a­tions, and how drivers re­spond to those sit­u­a­tions.

Volvo Trucks has a close re­la­tion­ship with the Swedish Na­tional Road and Trans­port Re­search In­sti­tute (VTI), and reg­u­larly uses the In­sti­tute’s truck driv­ing sim­u­la­tor for their re­search. As an in­de­pen­dent and in­ter­na­tion­ally prom­i­nent re­search in­sti­tute in the trans­port sec­tor, the VTI is tasked with con­duct­ing re­search and devel­op­ment re­lated to in­fra­struc­ture, traf­fic, and trans­porta­tion mat­ters.

In­for­ma­tion gained from this sim­u­la­tor flows into the devel­op­ment of new safety fea­tures on Volvo Trucks.

Nat­u­rally, driver sup­port sys­tems are in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to im­prove gen­eral truck safety, and Volvo is at the fore­front of de­vel­op­ments in this field. Sev­eral tech­nolo­gies that we take for granted in modern cars are also em­ployed in con­tem­po­rary Volvo trucks, with key in­tel­li­gent safety sys­tems al­ready avail­able in th­ese ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing:

• Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol – Helps the driver main­tain a set time gap to the ve­hi­cle in front;

• Col­li­sion Warn­ing with Emer­gency Brake – Alerts the driver if there is a risk of col­li­sion with a car in front, ac­ti­vat­ing the brakes if nec­es­sary;

• Driver Alert Sup­port – No­ti­fies the driver to take a break if it de­tects any sign of driver inat­ten­tive­ness or drowsi­ness.

Although Volvo Trucks re­gards it as their re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that Volvo trans­port ve­hi­cles are as safe as pos­si­ble, Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion also drives im­prove­ments in truck safety. As of Novem­ber 2015, there has been an EU-wide le­gal re­quire­ment for new two-and three-axle heavy trucks to be equipped with the au­to­matic emer­gency brake func­tion. The leg­is­la­tion aims to re­duce ac­ci­dents in which a truck drives into the back of another ve­hi­cle, an ac­ci­dent sce­nario that ac­counts for about one-fifth of all road ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing trucks. At present, leg­is­la­tion re­quires that the emer­gency brak­ing sys­tem must re­duce the truck’s speed by 10 km/h, but by 2018, this re­quire­ment will be tight­ened to 20 km/h.


There is lit­tle doubt that vis­i­bil­ity plays a vi­tal role in pre­vent­ing truck ac­ci­dents.

Of­ten, pedes­tri­ans aren’t aware of ex­actly what a truck driver can see from the cock­pit. And reg­u­larly as­sume that they are vis­i­ble to the driver, lead­ing to the high num­ber of in­ci­dents be­tween trucks and other road users, espe­cially in ur­ban ar­eas.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse, truck drivers of­ten don’t use their mir­rors prop­erly, mean­ing that they won’t see a bi­cy­cle parked next to them at a traf­fic light, or a pedes­trian walk­ing on a side­walk next to their ve­hi­cle.

To this end, Volvo Trucks has been pi­o­neer­ing many driver-train­ing cam­paigns - not only for lorry drivers but cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans too. The ‘See and Be Seen’ pro­gramme, for in­stance, aims to help vul­ner­a­ble road users, from cy­clists to pedes­tri­ans, bet­ter un­der­stand how to in­ter­act safely with trucks on the roads.

The pro­gramme fo­cuses on how im­por­tant it is for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans to make them­selves vis­i­ble to lorry drivers and other road users by main­tain­ing both eye con­tact and a safe dis­tance from the ve­hi­cle.

Re­gard­ing ve­hi­cle in­no­va­tion, Volvo Trucks will also con­tinue to de­velop smart ve­hi­cle de­signs that are con­ducive to safety. Last year, Volvo launched new cabs specif­i­cally to im­prove driver vis­i­bil­ity on the roads. That means ex­tra-large win­dows, slim de­signs for en­hanced rearview mir­ror ef­fec­tive­ness and Night Mode for im­proved vis­i­bil­ity in the dark.

Volvo Trucks is also com­mit­ted to work­ing to­gether with gov­ern­ments, in­dus­try stake­hold­ers, and the public, to achieve its goal of zero ac­ci­dents in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.


This Image: The EU reg­u­lates driver as­sis­tance sys­tems.

Left: See and Be Seen Train­ing

This Image: Us­ing tech­nol­ogy to im­prove vis­i­bil­ity Be­low: VTI Truck Sim­u­la­tor

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