As part of a new proposal for vehicle safety, trucks will include a range of new active safety features. It is part of the EU’s efforts to halve the number of injuries from traffic accidents by 2030. So, how will trucks change?
New vehicles in Europe are set to include a variety of active safety features starting in 2022, according to a provisional agreement reached by EU institutions in May.
For trucks, those measures include over ten proposed features, including distraction recognition (targeted at stopping smartphone use when driving), “black box” accident data recorders and intelligent speed assistance, a feature that notifies the driver when they are over the speed limit.
Although the exact technical details are still being worked out, we know that some of these features are already in place in some form in many trucks today. Others will have to be developed or adapted to meet the new EU requirements. In any case, expect to a see a wave of new safety features rolled out in new EU vehicles between 2022 and 2028.
Why is this happening? The overall aim is to save lives. The EU estimates its new vehicle regulations will save more than 25,000 lives and avoid at least 140,000 serious injuries by 2038.
One key target is to reduce the number of accidents between trucks and vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. And two of the proposed new active features for trucks – the new detector and alert system for vulnerable road users and the new direct vision standard for trucks – are both aimed at protecting vulnerable road users.
The direct vision standards, which will be phased in starting in 2025, includes specific requirements to improve how much drivers can see from the cab and to remove blind spots. Better direct vision from the cab has been shown to cut accident rates and driver reaction times. The new direct vision standard is directly inspired by a similar scheme in London, in which trucks are rated based on direct vision from the cab. In London, only trucks that meet a set standard will be allowed on city streets.
The EU’s long-term goal is to reach zero fatalities and serious injuries, known as ‘Vision Zero’ on European roads by 2050.
Will it work? Eliminating every single accident is naturally very difficult, but at Volvo Trucks, we see zero accidents, or “Vision Zero”, as a mindset. Our philosophy is that all accidents are essentially avoidable. Since we know that human error contributes to 90% of accidents, active safety systems that support drivers to reduce the number of accidents caused by human error are key to reaching that goal.
But whatever the final EU requirements, it’s important to recognise that the most important safety system is the driver. While active safety features are essential, they don’t take away from how important an alert and well-trained driver is to preventing accidents.