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Scania and EU officials talked road safety in Brussels

“Road safety is a war, but without any silver bullets,” said Dimitrios Theologitis in his speech at the third Scania Road Safety Conference in Brussels on 8 October.

The 400-strong audience included road safety experts, R&D specialists, academia, decision-makers, governmental and other bodies, truckmakers, transport industry and road haulage associations.

“For Scania, this is the year of the driver,” said Scania’s President and CEO Leif Östling when opening the conference. “Our objective with this conference is to bring people from different areas together to discuss road safety with a focus on the driver. We see road safety as a corporate responsibility. The focus of our safety work is therefore on people and how to support decision-making at crucial moments.”

Leif Östling in his final address thanked the co-organisers and sponsors of Young European Truck Driver 2003 and declared that Scania has decided to continue focusing on driver competence and safety awareness by organising a second pan-European truck driving initiative in 2005.

Presentations from the European Commission included papers on the road safety policy, driver training and other directives related to commercial vehicles.

“The European Union has made a framework that presents specific measures to approach road safety issues,” said Mr Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society. “We do acknowledge the work that the industry has done and welcome Scania’s initiative with the Young European Truck Driver competition.” On the subject of man-machine interaction he explained. “There is much more work to be done in human-machine interface (HMI), since we are actually facing a mental overload.”

Mr Herald Ruyters, Road Safety and Technology Unit of DG Energy and Transport, presented the Commission’s views and visions on driver training. “Only France and the Netherlands have made basic vocational training compulsory for truck and bus drivers. Yet such training will help to improve road safety, fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. It will actually become more attractive for young people to enter the profession and for existing drivers to stay.”

Dimitrios Theologitis, Head of Unit Road Safety, DG Energy and Transport, spoke on the prospect of halving road fatalities, as outlined in the European Commission’s Road Transport Policy. “The Commission has proposed an ambitious target of reducing road fatalities by 50 percent by 2010. The action taken up to now is obviously not sufficient to reach the aim of reducing the number of road fatalities. A European Road Safety Action Programme offers a framework for all partners and it guides the action where its added value is at its most.

“A number of proposals are currently under discussion at EU level; user-related legislation such as enforcements and control, driving time, rest periods and driver training; vehicle-related legislation about speed limiters, digital tachograph, and fitting of seat belts, etc. A variety of other road safety measures are also taken, including best-practice guidelines for cargo securing, handling of exceptional loads and dangerous goods,” explained Mr Theologitis.

“Scania is a good example of a truck manufacturer that is really taking its proactive responsibility,” said Jan Sandberg, Managing Director of the Swedish Road Haulage Association. “The Swedish Road Haulage Association is convinced that Scania’s ‘crash-nose’, for example, will be an effective way of saving lives … many lives.”

He continued by summarising an intense workshop about truck driving today. “Road safety awareness has increased significantly among all stakeholders. Today’s truck drivers are facing growing challenges in the form of new technology, advanced IT-solutions integrated in their vehicles, complex transport tasks and a need for on-the-job-training. The job as such does not have a good image and working conditions must get better. Also, it is of utmost importance that good leadership is enforced,” he concluded.”

Mr John Samson-Snell from Shell advocated a pro-active safety culture, something that Shell has been doing for a long time.

“Shell is challenged to show collective leadership behaviour, set ambitious targets, engage individuals and groups, clear rules and consequence management and be an active coach day after day.

“Drivers need to be proactively involved, and we need to facilitate drivers to report on potential incidents, hazardous spots, unsafe conditions and behaviours, and defensive driving training. Without the drivers’ proactive involvement, it is not possible to achieve and sustain continuous road safety improvements,” Mr Samson-Snell concluded at the conference.

Car-to-truck collisions were discussed by Professor Jac Wismans, TNO, the Dutch research institute, who also reported from a workshop on this subject. He also introduced the concept of integrated safety. Effective passive safety systems can be supported by active systems, for example before and after an accident. An active system could reduce speed before an accident and another one automatically call the emergency service afterwards.

In an effort to reduce the severe consequences of car-to-truck collisions, Scania launched a new crash-zone concept for trucks that could save up to 900 lives per year in the EU. “Our challenge has been to combine crash compatibility with Scania styling,” said Hasse Johansson, Group Vice President R&D, Scania. “With an attractive design, such a vehicle is likely to appeal to operators who want to display their commitment to safety and concern for other road users.”

Mrs Françoise Dalle, responsible for Strategic Marketing of Truck Tyres at Michelin reported from a workshop on truck driving in 2010. Discussions centred on what additional competence will be required in 10 years’ time and who should take the lead in this process. One conclusion was that technology should centre more on specific drivers’ needs.

The conference also marked the official conclusion of Scania’s Young European Truck Driver 2003 initiative. Mr Heinz Hilbrecht, Director of Inland transport at DG Energy and Transport in the European Commission, and Scania’s President and CEO, Mr Leif Östling, together awarded the top-three drivers in this year’s competition, Michele Sandri, Italy, Laurens D’Huyvetter, Belgium and Mika Venäläinen, Finland. Mr Östling and Mr Hilbrecht both emphasised the winners’ importance as role models to other truck drivers and road users all across Europe. Mr Östling awarded a special diploma to Michele Sandri’s employer in Trento for good leadership.

Interviewed on-stage, Michele Sandri hoped his achievement would inspire many colleagues and Laurens D’Huyvetter pointed out that safe driving is up to each driver, not the vehicle.

Presentations, illustrations, photos, etc. are available at, About the Scania Group, News centre, Events.

On 20 October, more material from the workshops will be published.

For further information, please contact Magnus Hahn, Senior Vice President Business Communications, Scania, tel. +46 8 55383510.