The trucking industry is a vital component of the national economy. For this reason, a great deal of research goes into developing new accident prevention technologies. In the past, accident prevention usually meant the reduction of damages if an accident were to take place. Today, smart systems are being developed to keep drivers safe on the road.
The Next Generation in Stability Control
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) has become an integral part of trucking safety. ESC is the system that selectively implements brakes to one or more wheels when the truck begins to lose control. ESC II is currently being developed to further decrease loss of vehicle control. This is accomplished through a combination of slight steering input, as well as throttle and braking control. Tests are being conducted to expand these mechanisms to include rear wheel steering control through active multi-link suspension systems.
Pre-Collision Systems have been installed in many of the more expensive car models and can be adapted for use in trucks. If a collision is imminent, the system senses the approaching cars and other obstacles and activates preventive measures to try to stop or minimize the collision and to protect the driver. Measures taken may be full activation of brakes and activation of safety devices. Some systems even include video cameras to act as a second pair of eyes for the driver.
Adaptive Cruise Control
In addition to regulating speed, this system uses radar to maintain safe traveling distances between vehicles. As the truck approaches another vehicle, brakes and throttle are adjusted accordingly.
Lane Departure Warning
Cameras are installed in the truck to detect the stripes denoting lanes or road margins. If the truck begins to cross these lines, a chime and warning light are activated. In testing, this system was very effective on highways in alerting drowsy drivers that they are not paying attention to the road.
This is a mechanism that measures the pressure applied to the brakes. If a rapid hard thrust is applied, as when a driver is trying to avoid a collision, the maximum braking capacity is increased adding greater braking power.
Blind Spot Detection
This system uses cameras to observe a trucks blind spots. If the driver attempts to change lanes while a vehicle is in the trucks blind spots, a warning is given to the driver.
Infrared technology can be applied to increase drivers vision ability at night. Drivers have reported many night vision systems as being confusing, but better systems are being developed.
Sensors augment stability control in order to detect when the truck is beginning to tip. Stability control then applies brakes in an effort to prevent the rollover. If this fails safety systems, such as airbags, are activated.
Active Head Restraints
During a collision, head restraints move forward to brace the head in an effort to prevent whiplash.
As every driver knows, attempting to fumble with gear and gadgets can reduce the ability of a driver to control a truck. For this reason implementing voice recognition systems for control of radios, climate control, cell phones, etc. is seen as a way to greatly increase driver safety.
Systems are being developed that allow vehicles to communicate with each other. This would operate in a similar fashion to drivers further down the road informing others of ice or accidents. All vehicles would report to each other a variety of factors including road conditions, weather, obstructions, and so on.