Truck safety: now and in the future

Commercial vehicles are making an important contribution towards improving road safety.

Commercial vehicles are implicated in only about 10% of fatal road accidents. In addition, between 2001 and 2011, the number of fatalities involving heavy goods vehicles in the EU has declined by more than 42%.

Truck manufacturers have long devoted significant resources to building safety into their vehicles. Recent developments include advanced Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Electronic Braking Systems (EBS), as well as Automatic Traction Control Systems (TCS) – devices that have been adopted across the board by truck manufacturers and that save many lives every day. These have now been further enhanced by Electronic Stability Control Programmes (ESP) to help maintain lateral stability and prevent rollovers in emergency situations – and innovations continue apace.

Driver behaviour

Combined with a skilled, well-trained, responsible driver, these and other safety enhancements contribute to the low accident rate of trucks on the road today. European truck manufacturers are increasingly involved with driver training programmes to ensure that their vehicles are driven in the safest and most responsible manner. While truck drivers are highly-skilled professionals who receive intensive training throughout their career, other road users have an equal responsibility for road safety. We all share the same roads and it is therefore vital to take into account the capabilities and limitations of the other types of vehicles in the vicinity.

Safer trucks

Recent advances in vehicle safety systems include both active safety, which helps prevent accidents, and passive safety devices, which help to mitigate their effects. Some of the most important such technologies now available, or under development, include:  

  • Systems that help prevent skidding, wheel locking and loss of control under heavy braking (ABS), and improve braking performance (Electronic Braking Systems or EBS)
  • Stability Control and Roll-Over Control Systems (ARP) to avoid accidents due to truck or trailer skidding and overturning
  • Devices for front, rear and side under-run protection, which can significantly reduce the risk of injury to car drivers involved in accidents with trucks
  • Adaptive and Advanced Cruise Control (ACC) which helps the driver maintain a safe, constant distance from the vehicle ahead
  • Systems that help improve visibility around the truck, reducing the number of blind spots and improving indirect vision, including special mirrors, camera systems and radars
  • Improved tyre safety, including innovations in treads adapted to each axle, better road holding, reduced water projection, and under-inflation detection/warning
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), which warns the driver if he leaves a marked lane without using his indicator
  • Drowsiness or fatigue detectors, which warn the driver if his vigilance decreases
  • Collision warning systems, which are still under development, warn a driver of potentially dangerous obstacles in the lane
  • Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) which start braking manoeuvres automatically if the collision is imminent and the driver is not performing any action to avoid it
  • Automatic Convoy systems that safely and automatically control vehicles following one another.
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