- Daimler: a pioneer in safety and assistance systems
- Safety made to measure in trucks, vans and buses
- Safety development at Daimler: acting rather than reacting
- Daimler: the safest trucks, vans and buses
Safety is one of the fundamental brand values of Daimler. For decades the company has been a pioneer in safety and assistance systems. Whether the trucks and vans from Mercedes-Benz or the buses and coaches from Daimler Buses – all vehicle categories can be equipped with all the currently available safety and assistance systems. Most of these systems are in-house developments, and celebrated their world premieres in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. They were already being installed in the products of Daimler’s corporate brands before legislators required them or even became aware of them. This is because the company’s safety development work is always practically related to what actually happens in accidents. This is not least by virtue of the in-house commercial vehicle accident research activities. Daimler is driving this development work forward with new and unrivalled assistance systems such as the blind spot monitoring system for Mercedes-Benz Trucks. The ambitious goal is to realise the vision of accident-free driving. The developments in accident statistics show that we are gradually coming closer to it.
Accident prevention is the basic principle
A comprehensive approach is taken to safety at Daimler. There is no isolated goal of merely mitigating the effects of accidents. Instead Daimler concentrates on not letting accidents happen in the first place. Because the greatest safety of all is accident prevention, especially when it comes to commercial vehicles. After all, they have a mass many times that of a passenger car or a pedestrian. Accordingly, developers at Daimler feel they have a responsibility to protect other road users.
Accident prevention already begins with the driver, his level of fitness and wellbeing, his workplace and the operating safety of the vehicle. Daimler trucks, vans and buses are therefore consciously designed as „driver vehicles“: in every aspect of operation and comfort, the drive system and handling characteristics, they are designed with the driver in mind, and to make his demanding day-to-day work easier. This is a major reason why the trucks, buses and vans of the Daimler brands are so popular with their users, and always score top marks in independent customer surveys.
In addition Daimler supports the drivers in every vehicle category with highly specialised safety training courses. This training by professional instructors enables drivers to respond rapidly and calmly in hazardous situations. Because final responsibility always lies with the driver: even when their invention is automated, assistance systems remain what their name implies, namely assistants that support the driver.
Specifically applied safety technology pays off
Especially in the case of commercial vehicles, safety comes with another requirement: it must pay off financially. Systems that pay off are welcome to customers. And specifically applied safety technology pays off: a truck, bus or van that arrives at its destination without suffering an accident avoids downtime in the workshop, repair costs and possibly higher insurance premiums. At the same time, insurers reward the installation of safety systems with discounted premiums.
Safety made to measure in trucks, vans and buses
Safety technology must however also be viewed individually considering the very heterogeneous operating profiles of commercial vehicles: trucks, buses and vans cannot be treated alike, as they require different safety and assistance systems. This also applies within the individual vehicle categories. Long-distance trucks operate in a different environment from distribution trucks. Which is why city buses and touring coaches also have little in common technically. On the other hand, vans can meet the very varied needs of tradespeople, courier services, campers and bus operators with one and the same vehicle.
The engineers at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses therefore develop highly specific safety technology for each individual vehicle category and the relevant purpose. Just a few of many examples: the highly advanced Active Brake Assist 3 is a perfect emergency braking assistant for long-distance trucks and touring coaches. The new blind spot monitoring system is perfectly configured to support truck drivers when changing lane on the motorway and turning off in town. The new anti-jackknifing system ATC has proved its worth as a unique safety feature specifically for articulated buses. Vans bearing the Mercedes star are on the roads safely with tailor-made safety systems such as Crosswind Assist, PRE-SAFE® and Collision Prevention Assist.
Advantage thanks to in-company networking
The technical lead established by Daimler vehicles with respect to safety developments did not come about by chance. The great advantage enjoyed by the individual business units is this: trucks, vans, buses and also passenger cars are closely networked with each other and with corporate research at headquarters. This means that each unit benefits from the development work and experience of the others.
An example: in spring 1995 the electronic stability system ESP was the first such system worldwide to enter series production in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Only a few years later this was followed by considerably more complex versions in trucks, vans and buses, owing to the wide range of variants with different wheelbases, axle configurations, bodies and load parameters. ESP has now been used successfully for 20 years, and is nowadays a standard feature.
In-house accident analyses scrutinise accidents down to the last detail
Safety and assistance systems are not an end in themselves. Accordingly the development engineers receive supporting information from the in-house commercial vehicle accident analysts. These experts have now been investigating real accidents involving Mercedes-Benz trucks for 45 years. They attend the scene of almost every serious accident involving a Mercedes-Benz truck, and conduct their own, independent investigation.
For the last eleven years accidents involving all vehicle brands have also been recorded and evaluated in a commercial vehicle accident database. This research is a major component for the development of active and passive vehicle safety systems – an unrivalled combination of know-how and practical relevance.
Safety development at Daimler: acting rather than reacting
This in-house accident research makes one thing clear: unlike other manufacturers, Daimler takes its lead less from future legislative requirements than from the actual accident situation. The benefits are obvious: the development of safety and assistance systems is rapid and reflects reality, rather than waiting for regulations to appear. The principle here is to act rather than merely react.
The result is a decisive advantage. Daimler has been the inventor of numerous safety and assistance systems over many decades. Many of these have initiated revolutionary changes in safety technology. Just a few striking examples out of many are the anti-lock braking system ABS for heavy commercial vehicles, the electronic stability system ESP or Active Brake Assist. Daimler produces the safest trucks, vans and buses. Apart from the buyers and drivers of trucks, vans and buses, this advantage benefits all other road users.
One very recent example is the EU’s requirement for the installation of emergency braking and lane-keeping systems in newly registered trucks and buses from November 2015. Both have already been available from Daimler for nine years (Active Brake Assist) and 15 years (Lane Keeping Assist) respectively, first in trucks and shortly afterwards in touring coaches. Another example: since the autumn of last year, the Electronic Stability Programme ESP has been mandatory for newly registered vans – but ESP has been standard equipment in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter since as early as 2002. Thanks to this lead in technical development and wealth of experience, these systems are capable of more than comparable applications and more than required by legislation.
Insurers confirm this practical approach
Independent studies also confirm the practical approach taken by Daimler, e.g. that by the association of German insurers (GDV). As the main causes of truck accidents this cites rear-end collisions ahead of cornering accidents, accidents caused by leaving the driving lane or collisions with pedestrians. The current Daimler assistance systems for commercial vehicles address all these types of accident.
According to GDV, an emergency braking assistant is able to prevent more than half of all rear-end collisions involving trucks. The insurers also established that cornering assistance systems can prevent more than 40 percent of accidents between trucks and pedestrians or cyclists. GDV also calculated a safety potential of almost 40 percent for lane-keeping assistants. The above systems are also credited by GDV with having a significant positive influence on the accident situation for buses.
Which gives rise to a particular wish on the part of truck manufacturers: those who want new assistance systems should not only demand them, but also support their use. The insurers could encourage the spread of further assistance systems, and therefore more safety on the roads, by granting appropriate discounts on their premiums.
Accident figures have been declining for years
The accident statistics speak for themselves: The number of accidents in the 28 EU states has fallen considerably in the last two and a half years. While the European Commission reported 1.44 million accidents for the area covered by the present EU 28 in 1991, the number fell by around one third to approx. 1 million accidents as of last year.
This gratifying development is even more positive if we look at the number of road accident fatalities. It has fallen drastically: while 76,230 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in the area of today’s EU in 1991, the figure fell by two thirds to 25,700 fatalities in 2014.
The figures show how positively safety and assistance systems are affecting accident frequency in the haulage sector: total road transport mileage in the EU has increased by 15 percent since 2000, but the number of truck accidents involving fatalities has fallen by 56 percent over the same period.
Germany offers a similar example: in 20 years the total road transport mileage has increased by 80 percent, but over the same period a 57 percent decline in fatal injuries during truck accidents has been registered. It is very noticeable that the figures began to decline rapidly from around 2000 – as trucks started to be equipped with assistance systems for which Mercedes-Benz was above all the driving force.
Ambitious EU programmes to improve safety
The aim is to drastically reduce accident figures – and above all the rate of fatalities – even further. Accordingly the EU has a number of ambitious programmes to halve the number of road accident fatalities in each ten-year increment. At present the EU is roughly on course with this undertaking in the current decade, even though the number of fatalities fell by only around one percent last year. With the mandatory introduction of emergency braking and lane keeping systems for newly registered trucks and touring coaches from November 2015, a further positive push in the commercial vehicle sector is to be expected in the coming years.
The development work continues: as a next step the EU is expected to turn its attention to the safety of pedestrians and (motor)cyclists. At present one in five road accident fatalities in Europe involve pedestrians, with a similar number killed on two wheels. The new blind spot monitoring system from Mercedes-Benz Trucks addresses precisely this area, and is due to be launched shortly.
The EU is also preparing a general agenda for road safety over the coming five years, plus an assessment of possible measures for reducing severe injuries in road traffic.
The aim: fusion of assistance systems
The development work continues: Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses are continuing to hasten the development of their safety and assistance systems. The development of the new blind spot monitoring system for trucks, additional functions for Active Brake Assist, the adaptation of further assistance systems including their specific configuration for vans – the engineers at Daimler are relentlessly working on new safety and assistance systems until the vision of accident-free driving has become a reality.
One major step on the way is the fusion of different onboard systems and communication between vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 already demonstrated this exactly one year ago: it paves the way for autonomous driving – which would be accident prevention at the ultimate level.
Daimler: the safest trucks, vans and buses
Daimler is a pioneer in all these developments. The Mercedes star and its related brands stand for outstanding safety. On the Safety Campus, a wide variety of vehicles ranging from vans to semitrailer combinations, and from the articulated bus to the super high-decker touring coach demonstrate the fascinating abilities of modern assistance systems. They cover a wide range, from Crosswind Assist and semi-automatic parking for vans to the new anti-jackknife protection ATC for articulated buses and the new blind spot monitoring system for trucks. There are also spectacular demonstrations of Active Brake Assist 3 and Collision Prevention Assist. One thing becomes clear: Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses already supply the world’s safest trucks, vans and buses.