The presence of trucks and vans in traffic will also be striking in 20 years. They are, however, less prominent than represented in the accident statistics today. A thorough development of concepts of active and passive safety and the introduction of intelligent telematics systems have made this type of vehicle much safer. Not only fewer accidents happen; in the event of an accident, there are fewer casualties among the occupants of the truck itself and other road users involved in the accident. Heavy transport has been a place in everyday traffic for decades. In 2020, an advanced intelligent driver assistance will provide a maximum counterweight to the risk that commercial vehicles carry with their specific vehicle construction and masses anyway. Moreover, efforts have been made in the area of traffic infrastructure by then. Light commercial vehicles mix smoothly with passenger transport in cities and residential areas; heavy trucks enjoy on highways and large connecting axes of an infrastructure that is adapted to their needs and limitations and that offers maximum safety. The drivers of trucks and vans can finally enjoy better training and permanent monitoring. Simulators help in the formation of drivers, on-board systems contribute maximally to alleviating their task. In short, in 2020, the vehicle, driver and infrastructure will form a symbiosis that will promote road safety. Light commercial vehicles mix smoothly with passenger transport in cities and residential areas; heavy trucks enjoy on highways and large connecting axes of an infrastructure that is adapted to their needs and limitations and that offers maximum safety. The drivers of trucks and vans can finally enjoy better training and permanent monitoring. Simulators help in the formation of drivers, on-board systems contribute maximally to alleviating their task. In short, in 2020, the vehicle, driver and infrastructure will form a symbiosis that will promote road safety. Light commercial vehicles mix smoothly with passenger transport in cities and residential areas; heavy trucks enjoy on highways and large connecting axes of an infrastructure that is adapted to their needs and limitations and that offers maximum safety. The drivers of trucks and vans can finally enjoy better training and permanent monitoring. Simulators help in the formation of drivers, on-board systems contribute maximally to alleviating their task. In short, in 2020, the vehicle, driver and infrastructure will form a symbiosis that will promote road safety. The drivers of trucks and vans can finally enjoy better training and permanent monitoring. Simulators help in the formation of drivers, on-board systems contribute maximally to alleviating their task. In short, in 2020, the vehicle, driver and infrastructure will form a symbiosis that will promote road safety. The drivers of trucks and vans can finally enjoy better training and permanent monitoring. Simulators help in the formation of drivers, on-board systems contribute maximally to alleviating their task. In short, in 2020, the vehicle, driver and infrastructure will form a symbiosis that will promote road safety.
Read about: EL compadre trucks
The evolution during the last decades
Across Europe, there has been a sharp downward trend in traffic accident figures over the past decades. Belgium follows that line. Where in 1980 there were 465 fatalities or serious injuries per billion vehicle-km were to be regretted, there are still 144 in 1998. More specifically for accidents with trucks, we can record the same sharply declining trend. European figures 1 indicate that during the last decade the number of victims decreased by 20%, while the number of kilometers traveled increased by 40% in the same period.
This does not alter the fact that the road safety of trucks remains a concern. Commercial vehicles, which make up 10% of the total vehicle market and cover 16% of all vehicle km, are involved in 11% of all road accidents, but 20% of road casualties. The nature of the vehicle, with its larger mass and specific construction, plays a decisive role in this. The number of kilometers covered also has an influence on these figures.
It is also noteworthy that only 1.2% of all deaths and serious injuries in traffic are occupants of trucks. Again the reason is to search in the specific vehicle characteristics.
In order to achieve safer traffic, all the factors involved must be continually evaluated and improved. Research 2learns that often different factors – whether or not at the same time – are the basis of an accident. In 10% of the accidents one or other cause can be found in case of shortcomings or defects on the vehicle. In 30% of the accidents a cause can be found in the traffic infrastructure. But the most striking thing is that in 95% of the accidents one or other cause of the accident can be found at the driver of the truck itself. In the quest for safer freight traffic, the question is first of all how to adapt vehicle and infrastructure to the limitations of man. Almost every line of thought that is currently being investigated to make trucks safer stimulates this ‘driver interface’. Man is also the measure of things in the field of technical improvement of vehicle safety. Progress must mainly be made by intervening on the driver (training, monitoring, adjustment) and on the vehicle (own active and passive safety, linked to systems that positively influence the driver’s actions in a positive way). The infrastructure also has an important role to play, even if it is the most static of the aforementioned actors.
What does the future bring?
Because trucks differ fundamentally from virtually all other road vehicles, the shared use of the infrastructure involves a certain risk. However, because a complete separation between heavy and other traffic is utopian and can not be placed on a time scale, an adaptation of the existing infrastructure must be assumed.
The road network must be hierarchised: roads must be assigned a function, and must fulfill this function in construction and view 3 .
An extra functional interpretation can be obtained by separating heavy and other traffic by making work of target lanes (lanes / corridors). In addition, it is necessary to take into account future developments in vehicle mobility. In urban and residential areas, an increase in the number of vans must be taken into account. Large traffic axes must be prepared for the arrival of long vehicle combinations. Or else: separate entrances and exits on motorways near industrial estates and on roads with heavy traffic and intersections in industrial parks are considered. These measures must be backed up by a selective and rational supplement to the road network (eliminating missing links) where, in addition to road safety, mobility also benefits.
Improvement of vehicle safety
Commercial vehicles have become much safer in recent decades. Light trucks have also benefited from developments in passenger cars, and heavy trucks also experienced their safety evolution. The introduction of disc brakes, the mandatory setting of speed limiters on a large part of the park, the introduction of underrun protection – which prevents the driving over of other vehicles – and the mandatory use of systems that restrict the splashing of rainwater: these are just a few examples . Moreover, future developments will have an unprecedented impact. After all, the awareness of the potential for measures that can increase safety and the need for safer vehicles is stronger than ever before.
Predictions for the following decades put a potential gain of 50 to 60% at the forefront of reducing the number of road casualties in truck accidents 4 . The halving is also aimed at the automotive industry as an objective for 2020.
In order to realize this progress, and thus bring safer vehicles to the market, the constructors assume concrete accidents. The analysis of real accident situations forms the basis from which new safety concepts are developed. The four types of accidents that receive the most attention are: (1) tilting, scissor movements or getting away from a vehicle due to a loss of control; (2) sliding underneath another vehicle in the event of a collision; (3) grabbing other road users when the truck stalls or maneuvers; and finally (4) the accidents where the truck drives into a slow-moving or stationary vehicle.
(1) An optimized vehicle dynamics.
An optimized vehicle dynamics can offer a solution for those accidents where the vehicle control is lost.
A lack of compatibility between towing and towed vehicle is often the cause. To improve the unit pulling-towed vehicle, we are working on better braking and suspension systems. Disc brakes from carbon or other composite materials will play their part in the near future. Also for the so-called ‘fifth brake’ (the engine brake that is used as retarder or emergency stops) carbon versions are developed.
Fully electronic braking systems (Electronic Braking Systems or EBS) take it one step further. These intelligent systems manage each brake on the vehicle combination (tractor and tow) individually and determine how and where the braking force must be distributed in order to come to a stop as quickly, safely and stably as possible. A truck equipped with an EB system also has wheel sensors that are needed for the electronic roll-over protection. It permanently monitors the stability of the entire vehicle and warns the driver when stability is compromised, for example when changing lanes or when cornering. If necessary, the anti-roll system controls the drive to the wheels, it activates the engine brake or one or more of the wheel brakes to preserve or restore the stability of the vehicle combination. Even further are the active suspension systems (Active Body Control) that form a complement in the pursuit and maintenance of optimal vehicle stability and compatibility.
Essential for good stability are also a correct axle load distribution, load and tire pressure. For this too, monitoring systems are being developed that reinforce the unity of towing and towed vehicles. And lane keeping systems are also part of vehicle dynamics. They support the course of the vehicle by permanently verifying whether the vehicle remains within the lane markings. When the truck moves without a direction indicator being activated, the driver receives a warning signal: for example, a stereophonic (left-right) darkening sound that imitates a vibration strip. In this way it is avoided that sudden corrections compromise stability.
(2) Underrun protection.
Attacks – accidents where a vehicle lands under a truck – form a second point of attention.
After all, trucks have a high and rigid chassis that is not very compatible with other types of vehicles. Head-tail collisions are most common, which makes good, low-positioned bumpers necessary. A rigid beam at the front and rear protects against slipping and overtaking, but also means that in a collision passenger cars only use their own safety provisions (crumple zones). The situation will be significantly improved by carrying out trucks bumpers so that they can also absorb part of the energy. The according to a German study thus created increased compatibility between vehicles to 5 reduce the number of seriously injured and deceased victims in rear-end collisions by 10 to 20%.
Efforts in the field of side shielding for lorries have led to making these facilities mandatory for new vehicles. This is an ‘open’ beam construction. ‘Closed’ side protection, which is currently being studied and expected in a few years on new trucks and trailers, is possibly even more effective for weaker road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders.
(3) Improvement field of view.
The third type of accident is that where a road user is caught by a truck when it maneuvers or stops. Profit is again sought in an improved side shielding. Another area of research is the improvement of the field of view of the lorry driver.
The specific position of the driver provides a good overview of the traffic leaving the truck; however, the vehicle characteristics limit the side and rear view. Forward-facing dead-angle mirrors (including the so-called Dobli’s) are a step forward, camera surveillance is the next step.
The latest concepts of camera and radar monitoring inform the driver about potential dangers in the truck’s environment, without overloading it with information. Only information that can influence the driving task of the driver is visualized, which increases the concentration and efficiency of the driver.
(4) Driver assistance.
And then finally there are the accidents where a truck drives into a slow-moving or stationary vehicle. In these accidents, concepts of impact absorption and underrun protection are also discussed, but more specifically the research focuses on assisting the driver in the driving task.
The complex task of the driver is illuminated by a thorough interaction between man and machine. The Adaptive Cruise Control, which will be on many trucks in a few years, plays a major role in this. The environment of the moving truck is permanently scanned and the driver is warned when the buffer zone with the other vehicles (in terms of time or distance) becomes too small. When necessary, the speed of the vehicle and the distance to the other road users is adjusted. If an emergency stop is unavoidable, high-grip tires help to maintain track strength and significantly reduce the braking distance.
Also ‘sleep-detection’ systems and automatic transmission can help prevent this type of accident. In this way, the driver’s alertness is improved so that he can focus his attention on the traffic environment. Finally, navigation systems warn in advance of sudden traffic problems (accidents, traffic jams) or dangerous locations.
Technology at the service of man
The previous sections have shown that tomorrow’s truck will have a range of safety provisions that will drastically reduce the number of accidents and the number of casualties at the counterparty. This does not mean that the safety and comfort of the man or woman behind the wheel are forgotten. In the cabin, evolution continues day after day. Many manufacturers provide three-point belts on all their vehicles. Airbags and seatbelt pretensioners are already available on top models from the range and will be counted as standard equipment for every new truck within a few years. Air conditioning makes the stay in the cabin more pleasant, and the correct ambient temperature also has a very favorable influence on the driver’s alertness.
The ergonomics of the interior of the cabin are being revised, with greater attention to non-aggressive materials and increased protection against penetrating objects in the event of a collision, and an improved strength in the event of a head or lateral roll. These improvements will significantly reduce the number of casualties among drivers (and passengers), provided that they will actually use the seat belts. Moreover, the entire arsenal of safety features does not detract from the essential role that the driver also has in the truck of tomorrow.
Although the driver is constantly assisted in the driving task, the final inspection remains in his hands. It is also in that respect that data recorders (digital tachograph) have their main role to play. From the simple registration of speed, driving and rest times, on the permanent monitoring of all important parameters within the vehicle and in the traffic environment, up to and including filming and storing the environment in which the vehicle is moving: such systems always accompany the driving process . Their preventive character strengthens the training of the driver and contributes to an evaluation and improvement of his driving style. The mandatory introduction of this is being promised. European research 6shows that with recorders built into company fleets, the number of accidents can be reduced by almost 30%. Of essential importance in all the aforementioned concepts is the observation that the regulations must work in a guiding and stimulating way, without being restrictive. In other words, the introduction of a good system should not prevent an even better system from finding its way. That is why safety systems have to be continuously evaluated for their performance and their cost effectiveness.
The Human Factor
However one looks at the problem of road safety, it is the person who directs traffic safety. That is why we must continue to pay attention to the ‘human factor’: people in traffic. Safety programs and awareness-raising campaigns, which must provide sufficient ground for the introduction of the aforementioned technical and infrastructural measures, must be specifically tailored to specific risks. As the driver becomes more aware of certain risks involved in driving a truck, a specific message will have more effect. Also pointing to one’s own responsibility and encouraging a socially correct behavior in traffic can then prove useful.
For example, the most cost-effective measure to promote road safety in heavy traffic is currently proving to be the driving force behind the seat belt 7 . You can also work on the training of drivers. Driving training in different phases has a favorable effect 8on the acquisition and use of skills, knowledge and insight. Mentoring systems, in which young or accident-sensitive drivers are coached, also prove to be efficient. Finally, better driver training can also be obtained by switching on driving simulators during the training period. An undisputed psychological effect is the introduction of rewards for safe driving, preferably linked to an accident registration system, which provides insight into the accident costs within the company.
Working conditions also play a prominent role in the safety of lorries. After all, the transport always continues: day and night, and in all weather conditions. But other factors also influence the driving task: the constant time pressure and the many side tasks of the drivers, such as loading and unloading. In order to promote the interests of road safety and health of the drivers, statutory regulations have been established for the maximum service and driving times and minimum rest periods. The coming introduction of the digital tachograph can help in strict compliance with these regulations, which must be judged on its practicality.
Finally, there are the logistical measures. Goods flows (and therefore also traffic flows) can be shifted to hours with little traffic, such as the evening and night. In addition, logistical resources can be integrated into the dynamic systems for traffic management and guidance that are still under development. But just as well, these measures have a role to play in the area of road safety. After all, a smaller risk for and for freight traffic can be realized in various ways: through measures that have a smaller transport volume, in the transport organization, in the use of the traffic infrastructure, etc.
This inevitably leads to changes in road safety aspects. For example, a concentration of distribution through the use of large vehicles that mainly drive on highways and motorways can have beneficial effects. One example: the use of long truck combinations can lead to less vehicle km and thus less chance of accidents. This evolution in transport logistics is supported by the growing awareness among fleet owners that investing in safety can mean substantial savings in operating costs. After all, fewer accidents mean lower insurance premiums, less maintenance and repair costs, no loss of employability of employees, and less chance of damage to the load and possible loss of customers.
Road accidents involving lorries demand the attention of government and industry. Because of their economic importance, trucks can not be left out of our streets. That is why an active safety policy for trucks has to be set up. Ensuring safer traffic is a necessary synergy between three factors: man, infrastructure and machine.
The driver must be aware of his responsibility. This must be strengthened through good training and information. Safe traffic is also in the hands of the government, which has to encourage road safety measures. It must work on an adaptation of the infrastructure for the benefit of each specific group of road users, including the growing flow of freight traffic. Finally, a positive evolving safety curve is also in the hands of the vehicle industry. It has already taken the commitment to continuously and continuously reduce the number of crashes with commercial vehicles and the number of victims through continuous research and the subsequent technical evolutions.