Assistance Systems – Lifesavers in Trucks

With increasing digitalization, the assistance systems in trucks have also developed enormously. In an emergency, they can save lives. However, there are considerable differences in truck safety standards worldwide.

Driver Fatigue Assistant: At speeds exceeding 60 km/h, the system analyzes the steering movements within the driving lane and displays the driver’s attention level in the central display. With insufficient attention, a visual and acoustic alarm is activated. Photo: Scania

Driver Fatigue Assistant: At speeds exceeding 60 km/h, the system analyzes the steering movements within the driving lane and displays the driver’s attention level in the central display. With insufficient attention, a visual and acoustic alarm is activated. Photo: Scania

The world is full of diversity, and regional tastes are just one manifestation of this. Indian truck drivers, for example, prefer wooden truck cabs. It seems incredible for those from industrialized nations, as does the fact that new trucks have only been required to feature ABS since 2015. By comparison, Germany made ABS mandatory for new trucks back in 1991. Since November 2014, the inclusion of an electronic stability program (ESP) has been required of all new trucks registered in the EU. Since 2015, a lane departure warning system (LDWS) and automatic emergency braking system have also been on the minimum legal specification.

Europe holds a top position in truck technology

It isn’t just taste, but safety standards too that vary wildly around the world. While only ABS and ESP are required of trucks in the USA, trucks without ABS are still rolling off the production line in China. In terms of safety regulations, Europe is miles ahead the rest of the world. This is of course directly linked with the fact that European commercial vehicle manufacturers lead the industry for truck technology. Advanced safety technology is also increasingly prevalent in the markets of North and South America, as well as Japan, even if it isn’t yet legally mandated. This is closely linked with another dominance of European manufacturers: they have long been established as key players, or are still investing in becoming key players.

The turn assistant recognizes the cyclist before he can be seen in the side mirror. Photo: Daimler

The turn assistant recognizes the cyclist before he can be seen in the side mirror. Photo: Daimler

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the rest of the world is dragging its feet. For example, US manufacturer Paccar – owner of brands such as Kenworth and Peterbilt – also sells certain models with automatic emergency braking systems as standard, as does Daimler-subsidiary Freightliner with the new Cascadia. The logic that truck safety development in Europe has always followed, is however a very systematic one. It is based on decades of accident research and has always been focused on methodically mitigating risks in the order of their urgency. Particular dangers for truck drivers were quickly identified – leaving the carriageway, collision with leading vehicles, and head-on collision with another truck.

Through the years, we have seen the introduction of the safety belt, increasingly collision-optimized cabs, braking assistants and lane departure warning systems. Demonstrating that these developments happen in stages and build on each other is the first lane discipline assistant with active steering intervention, showcased in Summer 2018. This new system not only keeps the truck in its lane when the driver fails to do so themselves, it can also intervene in dangerous scenarios, such as counter-steering if the truck begins to skid.

Active safety is moving into the focus of developers

Moving into the focus of developers is active safety, or accident prevention, as well as protection of the other road user in an accident, referred to as partner protection. The range of systems covered by this extends from front and rear underrun protection and automatic emergency braking systems all the way to developments such as pedestrian detection, lane change and turning assistants.

Emergency Braking Assistant: Modern truck braking systems decelerate at 7 m/s2 and come to a standstill in 40 meters from 80 km/h. Photo: Karl-Heinz Augustin

Emergency Braking Assistant: Modern truck braking systems decelerate at 7 m/s2 and come to a standstill in 40 meters from 80 km/h. Photo: Karl-Heinz Augustin

How effectively each of the truck safety and assistance systems actually function is tested by DEKRA at locations such as the Technology Center in Klettwitz. On the journey to realizing Vision Zero, the goal is to develop ways of making accidents avoidable, independent of trucks’ technological specifications. In the case of the turning assistant – designed to prevent collisions with cyclists – an adjustment to the Road Traffic Act may be an equally effective measure. One could simply remove the paragraph which states that cyclists and motorcyclists are able to undertake waiting trucks.

In addition to technological and legal opportunities to improve road traffic safety, there are also infrastructure-related opportunities. These could be implemented by cities and communities around the globe and thus contribute to reducing accident numbers. For example, crosswalks at roundabouts could be positioned to ensure that they are well-visible to truck drivers prior to turning.

Example for the functioning of an assistance system

These are the four stages of the MAN emergency braking system EBA2. Graphics: DEKRA

These are the four stages of the MAN emergency braking system EBA2. Graphics: DEKRA

The MAN emergency braking system EBA2 works in four stages: If the truck is on the road and no obstacle in sight, the ACC (cruise control) is activated. There is no danger. However, as soon as an obstacle appears and the driver shows no reaction, a first visual and audible warning and a slight braking is initiated. If the driver still does not respond, the ACC shuts off and a siren-like warning sounds during partial braking. If the driver still does not react, the MAN EBA2 initiates the automatic emergency braking with maximum power.

Related articles
 
Magazine Topics
 
Newsletter