Intelligent safety systems to minimise risk of traffic accidents
More vehicles on the roads, a faster traffic flow and a distracting stream of information all impose considerable demands on both commercial vehicle drivers and car drivers. On the other hand, there has never been more opportunities for the person behind the wheel to drive more safely than there is today. The active safety systems found in many modern cars and trucks make it far easier to avoid incidents and accidents.
As of November 2015 there is an EU-wide legal requirement for new two- and three- axle heavy trucks to be equipped with the function automatic emergency brake. The aim is to reduce accidents in which a truck drives into the back of a vehicle in front of the truck , 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. Next year, this will be tightened to 20 km/h.
“It’s great that the legislation is becoming stricter but I still feel the legal requirements are too low. If you are driving at 80 km/h when the emergency braking system is deployed , you need to cut your speed by far more than just 20 km/h to avoid a massive collision if the vehicle in front has come to a standstill,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.
Volvo Trucks has developed a system that goes well beyond both current and future legal requirements. The system, which was introduced in 2012, focuses primarily on alerting the driver to the risk of a collision.
“In many cases this is enough for the driver to quickly assess the situation and avoid an accident,” explains Carl Johan Almqvist.
The emergency brake is only used if it is absolutely necessary, and it is deployed extremely quickly. The braking speed – or retardation to use the correct technical term – is about 7 m/sec2 , which is on par with what many passenger cars can manage. In practice this means that the truck’s speed can be cut from 80 to 0 km/h in about 40 metres.
The system monitors the vehicles in front with the help of camera and radar technology and functions irrespective of whether it is sunshine, mist, fog or darkness. If there is a risk of collision, the driver is alerted via gradually escalating light and acoustic signals. If the system does not detect a response from the driver, the truck automatically starts braking gently. If the driver still does not respond, the emergency brake is deployed until the vehicle comes to a complete standstill. After a further five seconds without any movement of the steering wheel or other reaction, the handbrake is automatically engaged, a safety measure to prevent the truck from rolling if the driver is in shock or is unconscious.
When the emergency brake is deployed, the brake lights start flashing to warn vehicles to the rear, and when the truck’s speed drops to 5 km/h the flashing emergency warning lights are also activated.
Volvo’s system also functions on curvy roads and can differentiate between roadside guard rails and genuine obstacles such as vehicles including motorbikes. In order to gain the full benefit of the system, it is essential to ensure that all functions, such as the ABS brakes, are activated on both truck and trailer.
Considering the short period that has passed since the introduction of emergency brake legislation, it will take some time before its positive effects are reflected in accident statistics. However, Volvo Trucks is convinced of the benefits of the emergency braking system and other active safety devices.
“Our active safety systems are part of a holistic solution that clearly helps reduce risks in traffic, but it is important to bear in mind that technology alone cannot do the job. A safe traffic environment requires active interaction between all road users. An experienced, attentive driver who handles his or her vehicle responsibly is still the best form of accident prevention,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
Examples of Volvo Trucks’ intelligent safety systems
- Adaptive Cruise Control, active cruise control that helps the driver maintain a set timegap to the vehicle in front.
- Collision Warning with Emergency Brake, alerts the driver if there is a risk of collision with a vehicle 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.
2017 Volvo Trucks Safety Report focuses on vulnerable road users
The number of serious road accidents involving trucks is dropping, but the safety of vulnerable road users must be improved. And there are still far too few truck drivers who use their seat belts. These are among the findings of a new traffic safety report from Volvo Trucks.
“In the 2017 Volvo Trucks Safety Report we analyse and describe why accidents involving trucks occur, how they happen, and what should be done to reduce the risk of accidents and their consequences. These are facts that are not only important to our own product development but also to everyone who works for a safer traffic environment,” says Peter Wells, head of the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team.
The 2017 Volvo Trucks Safety Report is based on Volvo’s own accident investigations and on data from various national and European authorities. One of the report’s conclusions is that there is a greater need to focus on reducing risks for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, moped riders and motorcyclists.
“In the past decade the number of serious road accidents involving heavy trucks has been almost halved in Europe. However, truck accidents involving vulnerable road users have not been reduced to the same extent,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.
About 35 per cent of people suffering serious injuries or fatalities in accidents involving heavy trucks are vulnerable road users. With the increasing pace of urbanisation and with more people and vehicles on the roads, there is a risk that injuries will increase unless serious action is taken.
“In order to cut accident rates it is necessary to continue the development of a number of technical solutions that can help the truck driver avoid potentially hazardous situations. Moreover, all road users need to become more aware of the risks that exist in the traffic environment and how we can best reduce them,” explains Carl Johan Almqvist.
Giving the driver a clear overview ofthe truck’s immediate vicinity is crucial to accident prevention. As one of many complements to rear-view mirrors, close-quarter mirrors and reversing cameras, Volvo has a solution whereby the driver can see what is happening in the front corner of the passenger side with the help of a camera.
“It is also important for pedestrians and cyclists to be aware of the importance to see and be seen and to assist in smooth, safe interaction in traffic. That’s why we are directing our educational material to both youngsters and adults, for instance our Stop, Look, Wave and See and Be Seen campaigns, which spotlight precisely these issues,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
In order to reduce the risk of accidents with other vehicles, Volvo’s trucks are equipped with various active safety systems. But if an accident does occur, it is a tried and trusted part of the safety equipment that is the most important life-saver – the seat belt.
“The report reveals that far too many truck drivers don ́t use their seat belts even though we know that half of the unbelted truck drivers who have died in road accidents would have survived, had they been wearing their seat belts,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
The 2017 Volvo Trucks Safety Report is the second externally published report from Volvo Trucks’ Accident Research Team.
“Cutting road accidents is an immensely important global issue. That’s why we want to share our research results in a clear and easy to understand way,” says Peter Wells.
The 2017 Volvo Trucks Safety Report can be found in its entirety at volvotrucks.comXX
Facts about the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team (ART)
ART has investigated and analysed road accidents involving trucks since 1969. For almost 50 years now ART’s experience and expertise have formed the cornerstone of Volvo Trucks’ drive to continuously improve its vehicles’ accident-prevention and injury-prevention properties, making Volvo’s trucks among the safest on the market.
Volvo Trucks launches new road-safety programme for cyclists
Volvo Trucks is taking yet another initiative to improve safety awareness among unprotected road-users. With a new global training package called ‘See and Be Seen’, this programme is directed at cyclists from 12 years old and up. ‘See and Be Seen’ is a continuation of Volvo’s successful traffic-safety training programme for young children, ‘Stop Look Wave’, which is in use the world over.
“Just like with Stop Look Wave, the See and Be Seen programme aims to improve understanding of how unprotected road-users and trucks can interact in the traffic environment. However, this time we are focusing specifically on cyclists, children and adults alike. With the fast pace of today’s traffic, it is vital that as many people as possible are aware of the risks in order to avoid accidents and incidents,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.
As the programme’s title suggests, See and Be Seen focuses on how important it is to watch surrounding traffic and to make oneself visible to truck drivers, for instance by maintaining eye contact and by not cycling too close to trucks.
“In order to reduce the risk of traffic accidents, we equip our trucks with increasingly intelligent safety systems and train our drivers in the art of safe driving. However, since the human factor is of crucial significance in most traffic accidents, it is important to increase safety awareness among all road-users,” explains Carl Johan Almqvist.
See and Be Seen is designed to be able to be used for schoolchildren from 12 years on, but it is also suitable for instance for traffic-safety organisations working with adults. The training package encompasses teacher aids including presentation materials, films and practical exercises. The material, which is published in English, can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.volvotrucks.com/en-en/our-values/safety/see-and-be- seen.html
Link: Stop Look Wave
Success for Stop Look Wave
100,000 children all over the world have done the Volvo Trucks traffic safety course
Volvo Trucks’ traffic safety course for children, Stop Look Wave, has been a major international success. Since the programme was launched globally a year ago, about 100,000 children have learned how to interact safely with commercial vehicles in traffic. Just in time for the anniversary of the launch, Volvo Trucks is releasing a new film on YouTube (link) to spread the message even further afield.
“With Stop Look Wave we’re giving children the world over the opportunity to better understand how trucks operate in traffic. In an easy to understand way, we aim to make them aware of the risks and how best to avoid them,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.
Important to see and be seen
In most traffic accidents, the human factor plays a decisive role. For instance, it can sometimes be difficult for a driver to detect pedestrians and cyclists who are close to the truck. The training programme therefore focuses on how important it is for children to be attentive and to make eye contact with the truck driver, either directly or via the rear- view mirrors. Among much else, the children learn to stop, look carefully around them, and make the driver clearly aware of their presence by waving at him or her before crossing the street.
“We work continuously to reduce accident risks by equipping our trucks with intelligent safety systems and by training drivers in safe driving techniques, but a safe traffic environment is based on the smooth and dependable interaction of all road users. That’s why it is so important to lay the foundations for safe behaviour at an early age,” explains Carl Johan Almqvist.
100,000 children did the course in one year
Volvo Trucks has conducted similar campaigns nationally or regionally for many years. But Stop Look Wave, which was launched globally in 2015, has achieved far more widespread coverage. To date about 100,000 children in 13 countries all across the world have done the course. Finland, Brazil, South Africa and South Korea are some examples. Stop Look Wave was recently launched with considerable media attention in Australia, and this autumn the programme will be rolled out in the USA and Spain, among other countries.
Much of the spread of this programme takes place via the Volvo Group’s own employees and networks around the world, as well as by customers and partners. The programme is also supported by the International Road Transport Organisation. The material, which is freely available on the Volvo Group website (link) can be found in 10 languages and is used by schools, haulage companies, traffic-safety organisations and many others.
“The programme is easy to tailor to local conditions and integrate into the school’s education system. Above all it has an important universal message that is easy for children to understand and absorb,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
New animated film
Almost exactly one year after the original launch a new film (link) is being released, with animated truck driver Tim in the lead role.
“We naturally want as many people as possible to internalise Stop Look Wave. That’s why we’re bringing the message alive with an animated film and distributing it via a wide range of channels such as YouTube.”
Facts about Stop Look Wave:
- Stop Look Wave is Volvo Trucks’ traffic safety programme for children aged between 5 and 11.
- Available in 10 languages.
- Available for both left-hand drive and right-hand drive markets.
- Has so far been used by about 100,000 children in 13 countries.
- Based on a training course originally developed by Volvo Trucks in Denmark.
- Can be downloaded free of charge from Volvo Group (link).