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Safety remains a priority for Volvo

HOGA KUSTEN, Sweden - When developing the FH16 truck and the D16C engine, Volvo set out to design its safest products ever. That goal has been accomplished, according to Claes Avedal, the head of Volv...


SAFETY FIRST: The FH16 is Volvo's safest truck ever, the company says.
SAFETY FIRST: The FH16 is Volvo's safest truck ever, the company says.

HOGA KUSTEN, Sweden – When developing the FH16 truck and the D16C engine, Volvo set out to design its safest products ever. That goal has been accomplished, according to Claes Avedal, the head of Volvo Trucks’ Accident Research Team.

Fifty per cent of all truck accidents involve the front of the truck, so Volvo has integrated new technology into the FH16 to reduce these costly accidents. One such feature is adaptive cruise control (ACC), which uses Doppler radar to measure the distance between the truck and the vehicle in front of it. When activated, it automatically adjusts the truck’s speed accordingly.

ACC doesn’t adjust the wheel brake. Instead it employs the engine brake and retarder to slow the truck down when necessary.

“The human eye finds it difficult to gauge speed when approaching a slower-moving vehicle from behind. This, on the other hand, is the particular speciality of the Doppler radar, and it ensures that the truck automatically maintains a safe distance,” said Avedal. “Unlike conventional cruise control, ACC is an ideal aid in more congested motorway traffic.”

Another safety enhancement available on the FH16 is Hill Start Aid, which “helps the driver start while stationary on steep hills,” Avedal explained.

Like Canada, Sweden and other parts of Europe have plenty of steep hills, and with up to 60-tonnes of weight behind you it can be difficult to get rolling when stopped on an uphill grade while pulling that kind of weight. Hill Start Aid keeps the brakes applied automatically until the driver touches the accelerator, preventing the truck from rolling backwards.

“It’s one sequence less for the driver,” said Avedal.

Another new enhancement is Volvo’s electronically controlled braking system (EBS) which has been upgraded in the FH16. This system helps the driver in cases of a firm brake application and combines wheel brakes with engine brakes to ensure maximum stopping capabilities are achieved, thus reducing the impact in the event of an accident.

“Speed reduction is vital if the truck actually hits something. This is because the kinetic energy and thus the collision force increase by a factor of four as speed rises. Cutting speed by half means that collision force is cut to one quarter,” Avedal said.

Another safety enhancement offered by Volvo is its Electronic Stability Program (ESP) which is now offered on 6×2 and 6×4 tractors. This feature stabilizes the vehicle during a panic braking application and controls the braking of each wheel individually to reduce the chance of a rollover or skid.

“All those who have really tested their truck’s behavior to the limit with ESP know that the system may spell the difference between a fairly straightforward correction of course, on the one hand, and a complete catastrophe on the other,” said Avedal.

“The driver will be the commander of the truck,” Avedal emphasized.

“But these systems will relieve some of the stress on him so he can focus more on driving the truck.”


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