Technology, Trucks , ,

TRUCK driver deaths attributed to vehicle rollovers could be reduced by 25 per cent by using side curtain airbags, claims Scania, as it launched what it says is the safest truck in Australia.

Fitted with standard side curtain airbags in driver and passenger doors that are designed to offer occupant protection in the event of a rollover, the Scania New Generation trucks released this month are focused on the long and medium-haul markets (S, R and G-series), urban distribution (P-series), XT bulk construction materials handling range, and the four-door, six-seater Scania CrewCab.

At the launch, Scania – part of Volkswagen Group – said truck rollovers were “relatively common and often deadly in Australia” and sees high demand in its potentially life-saving technology from fleet customers concerned about OH&S, as well as from owner-drivers.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) reported that in 2017, 185 people died from 168 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks.

These included 107 deaths from 95 crashes involving articulated trucks, 85 deaths from 79 crashes involving heavy-rigid trucks and seven deaths from six crashes involving both a heavy-rigid truck and an articulated truck.

Fatal crashes involving heavy trucks were up 2.4 per cent in 2017 compared with 2016.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data at July 2017 records that Australia had 491,548 registered rigid trucks and 98,108 articulated trucks. By comparison, there were 14 million passenger cars and three million light-commercial vehicles.

To combat rising truck death and injury incidents, Scania has made the side airbags for driver and passenger standard fitment on New Truck Generation vehicles. CrewCab variants, usually bought by metropolitan fire brigades, can have each of the four doors fitted with the side curtain airbag.

Scania Australia managing director Mikael Jansson said the launch of the New Truck Generation range was “undoubtedly the biggest investment in our 127-year history”.

Mikael Jansson

“As a global truck company, we have spent 10 years and $3 billion researching and developing the new range as well as covering more than 12 million kilometres testing our new designs in all climates and on all types of roads,” he said.

“The most noticeable features are of course the new cabs, but the real innovation is the introduction of new technologies, safety features, services and insights that will help our customers gain an accurate overview of some of their most significant operating costs.

“On average across the range, our new trucks will consume around five per cent less fuel and emit fewer emissions, particularly those equipped with Euro-6 after-treatment.”

Additional safety technology of the New Truck Generation includes seatbelt pre-tensioners, an uprated braking system, and a new front suspension with the front axle moved 50mm forward to provide a lower centre of gravity and less dive under braking.

Scania said that these chassis improvements increase stability and ride comfort, while reducing stopping distances by up to two metres, equivalent to the width of the average pedestrian crossing.

Other safety upgrades include a more robust, impact-resisting all-steel cab with improved driver visibility, and the City Safe Window that is a clear screen inserted into the lower segment of the passenger door to provide drivers with additional visibility of cyclists, pedestrians or fixed objects.

The Scania prime-mover range gets additional safety features as standard, such as the semi-autonomous advanced emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with active prediction that monitors topography for improved fuel saving strategies, electronic stability program and lane departure warning.

Optional equipment includes an auxiliary cabin cooler that operates on battery power to maintain driver health and reduce fatigue. It maintains constant cabin temperatures when the vehicle and driver are at rest.

All New Truck Generation V8-powered Scania prime movers are fitted with full LED lighting front and rear as standard, including daytime running lights. LED headlamps are optional on other models.

Scania said that the New Truck Generation family was designed to continue the company’s market expansion and sales growth over the next decade and contribute to a more sustainable transport industry in Australia.

Since 2010, Scania has grown its share and volume in the 16-tonnes and above category in Australia, from 371 vehicle deliveries and 4.1 per cent market share to 1004 trucks and 7.2 per cent market share at the end of 2017.

By Neil Dowling