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Scania's road-safety philosophy: Technology aids the human factor

"The human factor is the cause of most road accidents. That is why we place so much emphasis on active safety," says Vice President Kaj Holmelius, head of chassis development and production at Scania. The design of the driver's environment is crucial to the ability to operate the vehicle safely. And if anything untoward does occur, the interaction between active and passive safety ensures that the consequences for the vehicle and other road users are limited.

"Trade publications and driver surveys have for many years given Scania top marks in driver ergonomics. The latest trucks continue this fine tradition. Ergonomics and comfort are further enhanced, there is much more interior space and the climate inside the cab is even better.

"Another unique advantage is Scania's integral retarder. This conveniently operated auxiliary brake is extremely powerful and reduces the use of the wheel brakes by up to 75%. Safety margins are far greater when the retarder is used since the seldom- used wheel brakes are always ready to provide maximum braking power. The risk of brake fade is minimal.

"In the area of passive safety, we believe that Scania's new seats with integrated seat belts will promote an increase in the use of seat belts among professional drivers. They offer excellent protection by keeping the occupant firmly in the seat where he or she can be protected by the robust Scania cab. And at the same time, the occupant hardly notices the belt is on, since it offers perfect freedom of movement.

"We have been testing airbags as a supplement to seat belts since 1990. We are still not entirely satisfied with the degree of extra protection which an airbag should be able to offer. One major difficulty is to get it to trigger at exactly the right moment. The accident sequence in a truck is far slower than it is in a passenger car. If the airbag is activated too early, the driver may in fact lose control over the vehicle.

"With its rounded shape and underrun protection, Scania's new trucks have a lower impact on other road users if an accident does occur. The underrun protection and the shape of the frame act as barriers around vulnerable components and help retain manoeuvrability after a collision. "In order for the interaction between active and passive safety to function properly, continuous maintenance is essential. The brakes on a long-haul truck which covers 150,000 km a year must naturally be properly maintained so that they function reliably every single time. We therefore emphasise the importance of regular and professional maintenance.

Active safety

Scania gives top priority to the following areas: Ride and roadholding: the vehicle should be responsive and easy to manoeuvre. Brake performance: Scania's integral retarder has significantly extended the safety margins. Steering and brake feel: the driver should feel how the vehicle responds to every input. Driver comfort and ergonomics: the driver's environment is designed for well- thought-out interaction between man and machine. Cab climate: of crucial importance to the driver's performance. In order to reduce the risk of cold down-draughts, for instance, it is possible to specify double glazing in the side windows of the 4-series. Noise: the right signals should reach the driver to promote active driving. Tiring noises should be avoided or actively counteracted. Scania Alert is a device which enhances the driver's attentiveness. Passive safety

Scania concentrates development effort on the following areas: Driver protection: sturdy cab, soft padded interior. Comfortable seat belts: a driver who remains in the seat in a collision maintains control over the vehicle and is seldom injured. Scania has offered integrated seat belts since 1988. Airbag: can further increase protection for driver and passenger if used together with the seat belt. Protection for other road users: rounded shapes, underrun protection. Component location: the shape of the frame and the positioning of the underrun protection guard the front suspension and steering system, helping retain manoeuvrability for as long as possible in a collision. Scania's road-safety policy

We shall lead the development of accident-prevention vehicle technology. We shall integrate safety features in all development so as to minimise personal injuries in accidents. We shall strive towards international coordination of road-safety research and promote awareness of the safety aspects of heavy vehicles.