Accidents involving trucks turning off to the right are among the worst type of accident that can happen on inner-city roads, and not just for unprotected road users like cyclists and pedestrians, but also for the drivers themselves. In order to avoid such accidents as best as possible or at the very least to reduce their consequences, Mercedes-Benz Trucks introduced its optional Sideguard Assist (S1R) in 2016 as a series-production solution for many models in the Actros, Arocs or Econic ranges. For the majority of these models, Sideguard Assist is also available as a retrofit solution which affords the same level of protection as the series-production variant – and since April 2021, it can now also be retrofitted on the latest-generation Actros and Arocs models. Even the Mercedes-Benz Actros F, an entry-level 18-tonne-and-over tractor unit trimmed to functionality, can now also be retrofitted with the system. But that’s not all: for models in which Sideguard Assist (S1R) cannot be installed, Mercedes-Benz Trucks offers Sideguard Assist, basic as a retrofit solution.
With this, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is yet again underlining its pioneering role in the field of safety. At the same time, the company is laying the foundations for its aspiration of implementing driver assistance systems on a large scale which prevent accidents on both new and existing vehicles.
High demand for Sideguard Assist
The offer of a retrofit solution has been met with great interest from customers of Mercedes-Benz Trucks: since summer 2020, around 650 Mercedes-Benz trucks were retrofitted with Sideguard Assist – be that in the form of the S1R variant or as Sideguard Assist, basic. At the same time, an increasing number of haulage business owners are already ordering the system ex-works. The order quota is at the very high level of around 85 percent in Germany and Switzerland. “This demonstrates the strong desire of many fleet operators to offer their drivers a truck which isn’t just efficient and reliable, but a truck which also features excellent safety equipment,” says Andreas von Wallfeld, Head of Marketing, Sales and Services at Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
Equipment with Sideguard Assist can also be aided by state subsidies. That applies not only to the ex-works variant but also to the retrofit solution from Mercedes-Benz Trucks. Customers who take out vehicle insurance for their truck or tractor unit through Mercedes-Benz Bank receive a premium reduction of 15 percent when a Sideguard Assist is installed. This also applies to the retrofit solution for the Sideguard Assist S1R.
Multi-stage warning process
The Mercedes-Benz Sideguard Assist (S1R) proves to be a helpful feature, especially in difficult traffic situations and around complex junctions. If there is a risk of a truck driver unexpectedly overlooking a cyclist or pedestrian in their blind spot when turning off to the right, the system can assist the driver with a multi-stage warning process. S1R uses visual warnings in the MirrorCam display, which has now replaced regular main and wide-angle mirrors in the new Actros and Arocs. In a truck with outside mirrors, the warnings use an LED display built into the A-pillar. The core of Sideguard Assist is made up of two short-range radar sensors on the co-driver’s side of the frame in front of the rear axle. The system is designed so as to monitor the entire length of the vehicle combination plus two metres to the front, one metre to the rear and up to 3.75 metres to the right. It works for solo vehicles as well as tractor/semitrailer or tractor/trailer combinations up to 18.75 metres in length.
From June 2021 Safeguard Assist (S1R) will be replaced on the majority of Actros and Arocs models by the new Safeguard Assist (S1X) equipped with a further function that could, under certain circumstances, save lives: The so-called Active Sideguard Assist (ASGA) system, which is optionally available ex-works from production month June, can not only warn the driver of moving pedestrians or cyclists on the co-driver’s side, but also initiate an automated braking manoeuvre at turning speeds of up to 20 km/h, bringing the vehicle to a standstill should the driver fail to respond to the warning tones.
Still plenty of need for action
If you look more closely at accident statistics, you’ll quickly be pushed to the limits. The German National Statistics Office provides annual figures on accidents which include general data on accidents involving commercial vehicles and unprotected road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as statistics on accidents which were the result of “turning errors”. However, the breakdown does not (yet) make a distinction according to heavy trucks or accidents on right-hand turns. Regardless of this, there is still plenty of need for rapid action to be taken, especially as many cities and towns are in the process of expanding their cycle path infrastructure, which is expected to lead to an increase in two-wheel mobility.
And when you hear the data collected by the German Cyclists’ Federation (ADFC) on the basis of police reports, your ears are certain to prick up: in 2020, 40 cyclists were killed in Germany as a result of an accident with a truck turning off to the right. In 2019, this figure was 27, and a year earlier that number was 34. The actual meaning of these figures only really becomes clear when you put things into context against all fatal accidents involving cyclists. In 2020, initial figures from the German National Statistics Office suggest that in inner-city areas, 263 cyclists lost their lives on the road while 175 died on out-of-town roads – thus taking the total to 438 fatal accidents. The percentage of fatal accidents involving trucks turning off to the right was therefore almost ten percent in 2020. And a 2019 accident research study conducted by insurers on the basis of accident data from third-party insurance providers concluded that the majority of these collisions occurred in inner cities and therefore the actual percentage could be closer to the 15-percent mark. This fact alone is enough to again highlight the urgency of turning assistants being installed in trucks.
 Insurer: KRAVAG-LOGISTIC Versicherungs-AG, Heidenkampsweg 102, 20097 Hamburg, brokered by Mercedes-Benz Bank AG, Siemensstrasse 7, 70469 Stuttgart. The general insurance conditions are applied.