Dawsongroup is incorporating a suite of safety features in new trucks and trailers supplied to its rental, leasing, contract-hire, and finance customers, but will stand the increased up-front cost of up to £4000 on a tractor and semi-trailer combination itself.
Managing director, John Fletcher, said: “The technology is out there, so undoubtedly we have the ability to save lives. As business mangers we believe it is both a commercial and a moral duty to offer customers vehicles that deliver far more than just the basics. Others may be happy to do less, but we, and increasing numbers of operators we talk to, are not.
“Once you’ve seen what is on offer, you can’t unsee it, and the lives of drivers and other road users should never be seen as expensive: in truth, they’re priceless.”
The safety extras costs Dawsongroup around £2,500 for each Mercedes-Benz truck and £1,500 on every trailer; in 2017 it bought some 850 trucks and 900 trailers.
To promote the initiative, Dawsongroup has liveried a tractor and trailer specifically to help it spread the messages: ‘Save money, save lives’.
Despite the higher level of investment, Dawsongroup has not introduced price increases to cover its cost. It believes it will eventually find its return in increased take-up among safety-conscious operators and enhanced residual values when vehicles are sold on after two years.
Among the many extra safety features are Mercedes-Benz’s Active Brake Assist 4 automatic emergency braking system, driver’s airbag, forward and rear-facing cameras, nearside proximity sensors to alert drivers of cyclists in their blind spot, Lane Departure Warning and fifth wheels sensors to ensure the trailer is properly connected.
John Fletcher said: “Although we specify tractors with full-width cat-walks, we also supply more and more trailers with a ground-level coupling system, to make coupling up as safe as possible. It’s a ‘belt and braces option’ right now, but I believe it will eventually move to just the ground-level system. If drivers don’t have to get between cab and trailer for any reason, that has to be safer.”
Since 2013, Dawsongroup has fitted all its trailers with the Haldex TrCM+ system, which helps prevent trailer roll-aways by automatically activating the parking brake when the red air-line is disconnected. Drivers must then manually release the parking brake when suzies are reconnected.
All trailers have been supplied in conformance with the EN12642XL load-security standard since 2015. More recently the company has also been fitting Axscend TrailerMaster Junction boxes as standard to every trailer, to provide flashing side repeaters when turning indicators are activated..
Operators can specify further safety features, including a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and continuous brake efficiency monitoring.
“We’ve offered TPMS on trucks for quite some time and now we’re offering it on trailers as well,” John Fletcher said.