Daimler champions safety for commercial vehicles

Sep 24, 2009
  • Head of Content Management Mercedes-Benz Trucks & Daimler Buses
  • Tel: +49 711 17-53058
  • 10,000th Active Brake Assist system handed over
  • 110,000 assistance systems on the road
  • Assistance systems can reduce accident figures
Daimler AG has delivered the 10,000th Mercedes-Benz truck equipped with the Active Brake Assist feature for emergency braking. Hubert Troska, head of Mercedes-Benz's trucks division, handed over the anniversary vehicle, an Actros 1841 LS, to Robert Gammisch today. Mr Gammisch is managing director of the Log-In transport company, one of the largest logistics operators in the Czech Republic. "The Safety Truck brings us a big step closer to our vision of accident-free driving. Safety systems demonstrably help to reduce the number of accidents," observed Andreas Renschler, from the Board of Management of Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses, at the handover. Robert Gammisch added: "I'm convinced that safety systems make economic sense, too. Every accident puts human lives at risk, costs money and means lost revenue. With this in mind, we will continue to opt for safety features when ordering new vehicles."
The "Active Brake Assist" emergency braking function was launched in 2006, since when it has proven its worth in a combined total of over a billion kilometres on the road. Unparalleled in the industry, the system is available for Mercedes-Benz trucks. It has recently been introduced for touring coaches of the Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands as well. This active safety system is capable of saving human lives. When an acute danger of a rear-end collision arises, e.g. when a vehicle ahead is moving very slowly, Active Brake Assist initiates emergency braking auto­matically, if the driver fails to react in time. Truck drivers have since described traffic situations in which Active Brake Assist saved them from an accident.
For all its efficiency on the road, Active Brake Assist's success on the market was far from certain at the time of its introduction, as the demand for the other assis­tance systems which were available from 1998/1999, such as roll control, Lane Assistant, stability control (ESP) and adaptive cruise control was initially restrained. The breakthrough came with the initiative to introduce a whole bundle of measures in 2006: at a road show featuring the Safety Truck, Safety Coach and Safety Van which passed through a dozen European countries, Daimler showcased the effec­tive­ness of such systems to customers, media, insurance companies, employers' liability insurance associations and politicians. Individual insurance companies and employers' liability insurance associations now offer discounts on premiums when vehicles are equipped with such features. Allianz, Daimler and Dekra have also helped to promote the introduction of these safety features with the "Safety Plus" initiative. The combination of individual systems into safety packages, such as Mercedes-Benz offers in various markets today, harbours price advantages for customers.
As a result, a marked increase in demand is to be observed since 2006. More than 90,000 of the five available active assistance systems have been delivered in Mercedes-Benz trucks to date - a 100 percent increase on the figure at the end of 2006. In addition, around 20,000 assistance systems have been installed in buses belonging to the Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands. Despite the immense cost pressure imposed by the current economic crisis, the share of vehicles equipped with the Active Brake Assist system has risen for trucks by 32 percent since last year alone, while the proportion of orders for Active Brake Assist among sales of new coaches is only just short of 70%. This strong demand is concentrated primari­ly in Germany and Switzerland. Mercedes-Benz thus now aims to attract customers as road safety partners in other European countries and to offer safety systems at particularly favourable promotional prices. "Despite princely growth rates, there is no cause for euphoria," said Andreas Renschler. "Such safety systems need to be considerably more widespread, if we are to enhance traffic safety on a sustained basis. These technologies work. Since their initial launch in 2000 the proportion of goods vehicles involved in traffic accidents which result in injury has fallen by 17 per­cent."
This was also confirmed by the experts from the field of politics, insurance com­pa­nies, employers' liability insurance associations and transport companies at the road traffic symposium which was held to mark the delivery of the 10,000th Active Brake Assist system. And truck driver Marcus Dobberke commented: "I wouldn't be here with you today if Active Brake Assist hadn't taken over and slowed my rear-end collision down to just 15 km/h. If I had hit the rear of the car which suddenly pulled out in front of me without applying the brakes, instead of a mere case of damage to the tailgate the small child on the rear seat would not have survived this impact. Thanks to Active Brake Assist, the child did not suffer so much as a scratch."
DEKRA's 2009 traffic safety report on trucks states that the frequency of truck accidents in Germany in relation to mileage covered has fallen by over 70 percent since 1970, thanks to great progress achieved by manufacturers in the area of driver assistance systems, for example. The number of road users incurring serious injuries in truck accidents fell by more than 36% in the period from 1992 to 2007, while the number of fatalities dropped by over 40%.
"The EU will nevertheless fail to achieve its target of halving the number of deaths on the road by 2010," says Andreas Renschler. "We thus intend to remain a driving force in establishing efficient technologies on the market, and call on all forces in society to play their part. We need even more support from other partners, from more insurance companies and from political circles."
The safety assistance systems which are available today are capable of counterac­ting the most common forms of accidents. These are rear-end collisions (33%) and accidents caused by vehicles deviating from their lanes or leaving the carriageway (39%).
The Lane Assistant warns the driver when the vehicle is in danger of drifting out of its lane. When there is an indication that the truck is unintentionally leaving its lane, a pronounced clattering noise is emitted from the radio loudspeakers on the corresponding side, prompting the driver to steer intuitively in the opposite direction.
The electronic stability program which features in cars, vans and buses goes by the name of "stability control" in trucks. It is an active driving safety system which reduces the danger of articulated vehicles skidding during cornering or evasive manoeuvres. The stability control system also detects incipient tilting by semi-trailers. The risk of a semi-trailer tipping over is reduced substantially, within the bounds of what is physically possible.
Roll control for platform vehicles comes into its own when transporting loads with a high centre of gravity. It adjusts the damping hardness to the given driving situation and road surface conditions in a matter of milliseconds. The vehicle is stabilised and continues its journey in safety.
Adaptive cruise control keeps the vehicle at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. It is an electronic assistance system which adapts the vehicle's speed to the traffic situation automatically. Should the distance from the vehicle ahead become too small for any reason, this electronic system will intervene to adjust the speed control function accordingly.
Active Brake Assist (emergency braking assistant) is based on the radar system of the adaptive cruise control facility. In contrast to adaptive cruise control, Active Brake Assist initiates emergency braking automatically in the event of an acute danger of the vehicle colliding with the rear of the vehicle ahead. While Active Brake Assist cannot always actively prevent accidents, by applying full braking power it will always reduce the speed of collision and thus the severity of any consequences of an accident.
Use of the assistance systems is encouraged by price advantages of around 30% for the Basic, Classic and Top Safety packages in comparison to the total value of the individual components making up the packages, for example. Other benefits conducive to use of the systems include premium discounts from individual insu­ran­ce companies such as Allianz and Daimler Insurance Service GmbH, as well as promotion by the employers' liability insurance associations Steinbruchs Berufs­genossenschaft StBG in Germany and CRAMC (Caisse régionale d'assurance maladie) in France.
Daimler studied the effectiveness of these systems in a fleet test extending over twelve months in 2005/2006. For the purposes of a field test, 500 Mercedes-Benz Actros semi-trailer trucks were equipped with a safety package comprising Lane Assistant, stability control and adaptive cruise control. The incidence and severity of accidents was compared with a parallel group of 500 vehicles without the safety package. After covering around 100 million kilometres in the field test, the following findings emerged: the number of accidents resulting from the most common causes was halved for the trucks with the safety package. Where acci­dents did occur, the level of damage was around 90% lower.