Don’t overlook passive safety in heavy trucks

Crash structures, airbags and other mature solutions remain pivotal elements to any truck safety strategy, writes Freddie Holmes

A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh 80,000lbs (36 tonnes) and may take up more than 16 metres of road space. Given all that bulk, truck drivers are better protected than most road users in the event of a crash. Despite this, basic passive safety features remain vital. The three-point seatbelt, for example, has been in use since the 1960s and according to Volvo Trucks, doubles the chances of surviving a serious road collision. Powerful braking systems are also crucial, as are stability systems, and innovation continues on this front despite their maturity.

Special report: Commercial vehicle safety

Like passenger cars, heavy-duty trucks are being equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that aim to prevent a crash from taking place. At the very least, these should reduce the severity of an impact. However, experts recognise that even the most capable active safety systems will be unable to prevent all collisions; some rare scenarios might mean a crash is unavoidable, and even a simple case of ice or fog could mean such systems are unable to react effectively.

“Despite a high level of active

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