PORTLAND, Ore. — Freightliner and the US Department of Transportation have conducted the largest ever field test on vehicle safety and reliability.
The three-year study focused on the effectiveness of electronically-controlled braking systems (ECBS) and other technologies. The aim was to accelerate deployment of new safety technologies into the industry, according to Freightliner.
“With the massive amount of data we collected and provided to the DOT, they’ll be equipped to draw conclusions about stability and braking systems that may reduce rear end, lane change and merge collisions, lane departure, rollover, and understeer and oversteer instability – ultimately saving lives,” said Scott Smith, executive engineer with Freightliner LLC.
Tractor-trailer combinations with ABS, ECBS, disc and drum brakes were all evaluated during the field tests. Adaptive cruise control, yaw stability control, and roll stability control were also examined. Freightliner paired up with Wal-Mart to test a fleet of 48 new Columbia tractors with 58-inch sleepers. Great Dane provided the trailers for the field test, with the trucks and trailers operating out of Wal-Marts Loveland, Colorado distribution center.
A group of 40 Freightliner tractors and 60 trailers were used to determine the compatibility and performance of unmatched combinations of tractors and trailers equipped with ECBS or ABS. A second group of eight tractors was used to measure the performance of ECBS-equipped tractors with matching trailers.
The test trucks made one or more 300-mile round trips per day, delivering perishable and dry goods to Wal-Mart stores. During the first six months of the study, the technologies were turned off, while they were functional during the following six-month period.
“Conducting this comparative test over a 12 month period allowed us to look closely at the vehicles’ complex configurations,” said Smith. “We were able to gather substantial data by operating the vehicles in a real-world operating environment – as opposed to a simulated test – and supply the DOT with critical safety data for evaluation.”
Data from the test is still being analyzed by the Department of Transportation, however, Freightliner says the field test has proven invaluable.
“Running these tests helped us decide which technologies are the most effective and work best in our vehicles,” said Smith. “We want to continue to be at the forefront of new developments and always offer our customers the most advanced safety features on the market.”
He added “This study will affect more than just trucks. It has the potential to impact road infrastructure, cars and other drivers – it’s a positive step for the entire transportation community.”
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