A report from the Monash University Accident Research centre claims that a quarter of all fatal heavy vehicle crashes could be avoided using technology.
Conducting the study on behalf of the Vehicle Safety Research Group, the Monash researchers found that by installing autonomous emergency braking systems (AEBS) in all heavy vehicles, we could avoid a quarter of the fatal accidents from occurring.
The group looked into the benefits of AEBS, electronic stability control (ESC), warning systems and lane departure warning systems in heavy vehicles and found that AEBS were the most valuable in preventing crashes.
The revelations by the group prompted the NRMA Motoring and Services Centre for Road Safety and RACQ to encourage the fitment of these technologies in heavy vehicles.
NRMA vehicle safety expert Jack Haley explained:
“Of the four technologies assessed, this research found that autonomous emergency braking systems would make the biggest difference, reducing fatal heavy vehicle crashes by around 25 per cent if fitted to all heavy vehicles,”
“Lane departure warning systems, electronic stability control and fatigue warning systems could also deliver safety benefits, with each of these technologies estimated to prevent around four to six per cent of Australian fatal heavy vehicle crashes, if fitted to all heavy vehicles.”
Another supporter of the research is Marg Prendergast, general manager of The Centre for Road Safety.
Prendergast was pleased that this research finally revealed the benefits of these technologies on heavy vehicles because previous research concentrated on light motor vehicles.
“While a lot of research has investigated the benefits of fitting these kinds of technologies to light vehicles, this is really the first time we’ve had some insight into the real world benefits that could be delivered if they were fitted to all heavy vehicles,” Prendergast says.
“We know that heavy trucks are over-represented in serious road trauma in NSW. In 2014, they made up around two per cent of all registered motor vehicles, accounted for around seven per cent of all motor vehicle travel, but were involved in around 17 per cent of all road fatalities.”
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RACQ Executive Manager Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding was quoted as saying more than 18 per cent of road fatalities on Queensland roads last year involved heavy vehicles.
According to Mr Spalding, heavy vehicle fatalities are too common and the need to minimise the number of serious crashes is dire. While evidence has been presented in the past on fitment of avoidance technology in light vehicles, this research shows the effects in heavy vehicles. In addition to AEBS, other technologies can also be effective in reducing fatal heavy vehicle accidents, Spalding explained:
“Lane departure warning systems, electronic stability control and fatigue warning systems were also examined and found to prevent as much as six percent of heavy vehicle fatalities nationwide,” he said.
Mr Spalding anticipated an increase in heavy vehicle registrations across Australia and emphasised the need to act now to improve heavy vehicle road safety. He also mentioned the importance of making the jobs of truck drivers safer.
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