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Safety should extend beyond truckies, Volvo Trucks says

Almqvist says road safety education and awareness can help reduce number of accidents


A report released by Volvo Trucks in May this year provided data from more than 1,700 accidents involving trucks.

The data collection kicked off in 1969 and the global manufacturer’s Accident Research Team (ART) has analysed the crash data and highlighted a stark reality – we have a long way to go.

The data looks at crashes in Europe and of the approximate 26,000 road fatalities within the EU each year, 15 per cent involve a heavy vehicle.

Of these fatalities, 1,230 are Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) like pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and an alarming 53 per cent of the VRU deaths are pedestrians.

ATN sat down at the Brisbane Truck Show this year with Volvo Trucks traffic & product safety director Carl Johan Almqvist, who believes safety now has to extend beyond the truck driver and include education for pedestrians other unprotected parties.

“If we’re trying to fulfil our vision of zero accidents we need to talk to everybody in the traffic environment,” Almqvist says.

“We’ve been looking after the driver and making sure you’ve got a very safe environment to do your driving…but now we have to extend that.

“We have all the other players out there, and we’re seeing quite a lot of interest on the Vulnerable Road Users – bikers, pedestrians, motorbikers, all these that are unprotected…it’s a pretty tough environment out there.

“There’s no truck driver that wants to run over somebody, and there’s no pedestrian that wants to get run over – but now we need to talk to each other.”

Mr Almqvist says a contributing factor to the number of VRU fatalities is the widespread use of smartphones, which are immersive enough to completely distract people.

A staggering 17 per cent of pedestrians use their smartphones while crossing roads and fail to pay attention to the traffic, the report states.

“It’s getting tougher because a lot of grown-ups, as well as kids, are getting into their phones and especially when they use their headphones, they walk straight out into traffic,” Almqvist says.

When asked how this issue can be improved, Almqvist explained it’s a matter of education and awareness, across all age groups.

“It’s very much education, we need to make them aware of it.

“We say that accidents are due to human error to 90 per cent.

“When you know who’s there, easy, but when you start mixing it with all the other drivers out there, which we human beings have problems with sometimes, that’s the tricky part.”

The report clearly states that the most common VRU accidents are ‘crossing accidents’ and those involving turning heavy vehicles.

Volvo Trucks says, based on their core value of safety, the goal is zero accidents – a goal the global player is taking very seriously.

Photography: Cobey Bartels

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