Comvec highlights importance of electronic safety systems

By: Steve Skinner

A recent conference heard about the merits of electronic safety and braking systems on trucks and trailers.

Comvec highlights importance of electronic safety systems
Tony Cheyne says no electronic safety system is infallible.


Over recent years in Australia, the trucking industry has increasingly heard about and seen some amazing electronic safety technologies in trucks and trailers.

The suppliers often have different terms for the same technologies but they include rollover prevention; stability control to prevent sliding; blind spot detection; radar-controlled adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front; lane departure warning for when the rig is drifting; and tyre pressure monitoring.

What may surprise many is that these sorts of systems aren’t just available in brand new trucks and trailers; in many cases they can be retro-fitted.

After-market electronic safety and braking options were outlined at the recent Commercial Vehicle Engineering and Technical Conference (Comvec) in Brisbane. Comvec is organised by the Commercial Vehicle Industry Association of Queensland (CVIAQ). 

One of the speakers was Tony Cheyne, who is the application engineering manager with the Australian arm of global commercial vehicle technology giant Wabco.

Cheyne had some interesting anecdotes about just how valuable electronic safety systems can be. One of them was a study done by Mercedes-Benz some years ago.

"They fitted up 500 Actroses with the full safety package for the driver as opposed to the standard Actros," Cheyne recounts.

"And what they found was that the full safety package vehicles were involved in 50 per cent less accidents than the ones with the standard safety pack, and when they were involved in an accident, the repair bill was 10 per cent of the other vehicles."

Closer to home, Cheyne spoke of a customer who uses a lane departure warning camera for a Sydney-Canberra run, with the usual driver activating the warning an average of three times per trip.

That driver had a couple of days off: "They put a relief driver on and he was getting 20 alerts, so they dragged him in for a bit of a ‘what's going on?’ and he actually admitted ‘I'm having real trouble staying awake’."

Cheyne adds it's important to realise that none of these sort of electronic systems are infallible: "If the driver absolutely wants to put the truck on its side, he can still do that."

"I had a customer recently that rolled a B-double full of fuel. His whole fleet has my EBS (electronic braking system) on his trailers, and I was waiting for the call from him to say ‘Why didn't your system stop that happening on my truck?’," Cheyne says.

"A couple of weeks after he had the fall I got brave and rang him and he said they did a download on the trailers and the B-double was going twice the advisory speed into the corner.

"They also found out from the download that it had been prevented from rolling 176 times. The closest one to that that I've seen was a guy that was prevented from rolling 30 times."

See the August issue of ATN for more on the Comvec conference. Click here to secure your copy.

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