Truck makers to ‘step up their game’ as safety test scheme welcomed

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Tuesday 9 July 2024

The scheme will assess how well trucks are equipped to protect vulnerable road users like cyclists, via technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB). Image: Euro NCAP

Manufacturer Scania has expressed its support for a recently announced programme of safety testing for heavy trucks, the first technical proto­cols for which were published in May.

The Truck Safe programme is being rolled out by Euro NCAP, the non-profit organisation which is best known for the European voluntary safety performance testing programme in the passen­ger car sector.

But in April, the organisation announced ini­tial details of its first ever heavy truck safety rat­ing tests, at the NCAP24 world congress event in Munich. The Truck Safe scheme, the first rat­ings for which are expected to be announced in November, aims to enhance safety for drivers and vulnerable road users.

Euro NCAP also expects the scheme to cre­ate opportunities for fleet operators investing in safer vehicles – for example, via insurance benefits. The advent of the programme also raises the possibility that access to such ratings might in future lead to some cities introducing incentives for compliance with the scheme, or regulations similar to London’s existing Direct Vision Standard (DVS), where only trucks meet­ing certain rating thresholds would be permitted to operate.

Scania was among the truck manufactur­ers and technology providers to participate at NCAP24, alongside others including DAF, Vol­vo and ZF. Last month Scania called the new scheme an important step which would reward ambitious brands for their work, observing: “It is hard to overestimate the influence Euro NCAP have had on passenger cars.”

“We see the Euro NCAP initiative as part of a new and interesting aspect in our development processes,” said Jacob Thärnå, head of sustain­able transport at Scania Trucks.

“We at Scania have a solid reputation for our longstanding work with both active and passive safety in and around our trucks. The Euro NCAP testing will hopefully inspire the whole industry to step up their game and reach for the Euro NCAP stars.”

Initially the scheme will de­ploy a series of tests including the emulation of real-world col­lision scenarios, with the aim of encouraging manufacturers to improve driver vision and fit collision avoidance technolo­gies.

But the scheme will evolve in future years, with Euro NCAP expecting that increased active safety requirements around manoeuvring will be required from 2027. Then, from 2030, the organisation will commence crash testing of trucks to encourage improved passive safety protection.

While heavy trucks in Eu­rope are subject to a pletho­ra of legal requirements and regulations in areas such as weight, length, speed and driv­ing times, Scania observed that until now the industry had lacked a common, uniform system for the evaluation of non-mandatory safety aspects and functions.

“Assessing safety-related functionality in trucks is a lot more complicated task than it is for passenger cars,” Mr Thärnå continued.

“Heavy trucks are very di­verse and they are made that way for a reason. Euro NCAP’s approach to start on a small scale and learn as they go is a wise decision; it is compli­cated, for instance, to evalu­ate basic functions like road handling and manoeuvrability while they are both extremely important – and brand differ­entiating – from a safety as­pect.”

The company cites Euro NCAP’s estimate that heavy goods vehicles are involved in 15 per cent of all road fatali­ties, despite representing just 1.5 per cent of roadgoing ve­hicles.

“The sheer size of trucks and their need for space are contributing factors, and that is why advanced driver assist­ing systems are so valuable,” added Thärnå.

“We see a rapid develop­ment and use of sensors and cameras, and from Scania’s side we are convinced that they will help drive further increased safety for trucks as well. One should not have blind faith in support systems though; direct vision and skilled drivers are still basic and essential for true safety.”

The Truck Safe standards have been developed over the past 12 months through work with manufacturers, as well as consultation with hauliers, distributors, insurers, city au­thorities, legislators and road organisations.

Trucks will be tested by sec­tor, including urban delivery, highway distribution, long haul, and tipper and refuse vehicles.

“The future Truck Safe rat­ing will incentivise good safety performance in both cities and highways and allow optimisa­tion of operational safety and cost,” said Matthew Avery, di­rector of strategy development at Euro NCAP.

“New regulatory require­ments have forced manufac­turers to increase safety per­formance. However, our aim is to progress towards best prac­tice in all types of vehicle safe­ty, rather than just meeting minimum standards – a goal we have successfully achieved with passenger cars.”

A range of protocols for the Truck Safe scheme are now publicly available on Euro NCAP’s website (www. They cover safe driving (occupant monitoring, vision, adaptive cruise control and speed assist systems) and collision avoidance (frontal collisions with vehicles and vulnerable road users, and lane departure collisions).

As well as highlighting tech­nology that is already mandat­ed on new HGVs in Europe, the protocols indicate how the scheme will reward features that exceed legal require­ments in each area to promote increased safety.

For example, while lane de­parture warning systems are mandatory on new trucks, the Euro NCAP scheme will recognise systems that actively in­tervene to correct the path of a truck if lane departure is im­minent; incorporate additional challenging real-world collision scenarios featuring adjacent vehicles in hard-to-see loca­tions; and reward features that promote driver acceptance.

The scheme will assess a variety of key onboard safety technology functions, includ­ing intelligent speed adapta­tion (ISA).

“Speed is well known to be a contributing factor in many crashes and whilst trucks have top speed limiters for highways, they do not prevent speeding on other road types,” said Euro NCAP.

“ISA can automatically read the speed limit and control the speed of the vehicle mean­ing the driver can focus on the road and not worry about breaking the law. The system uses cameras and GPS map­ping to identify the correct limit and warn the driver if they ex­ceed the limit or even prevent the truck from speeding in the first place. These systems can even read the variable speed limits that we see on our mo­torways and autobahns.”

Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) will be another focus. Fitted to trucks for some years, it deploys radars fitted at the front of the vehicle, and sometimes a camera, to help identify collision objects.

“However, its performance has not been as high as pas­senger cars where we see a 40 per cent reduction in front into rear crashes,” said the organ­isation.

“Euro NCAP believes these systems could be better and help reduce the nine per cent of car occupant fatalities and 17 per cent of truck occupant fatalities that occur when a truck runs into the back of an­other vehicle.”

AEB also has a key role in protecting vulnerable road us­ers such as pedestrians and cyclists.

“Euro NCAP has tested AEB for pedestrians since 2016, and all new cars will react and brake for crossing pedestrians – adults and children. Howev­er, only one truck has a system in production. These systems often fuse camera, radar data, and warn the driver or even automatically brake.

“Euro NCAP wants all man­ufacturers to fit AEB systems that can not only detect cross­ing pedestrians but also cyclists, and even eScooter rid­ers.

“It is thought that systems like these could prevent a third of all HGV to pedestrian crashes.”

Euro NCAP also acknowledg­es the contribution to certain types of crashes of the height of cabs, making it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists near to the truck.

While truck makers are responding by increasing di­rect vision as rewarded under London’s DVS system – with lower cabs, larger windows and additional windows in the passenger door – Euro NCAP will be testing nearside turn AEB and move off prevention technologies that identify im­minent collisions with cyclists or pedestrians and intervene more quickly than an attentive driver would.

Emergency lane keeping systems will also factor into Euro NCAP’s safety ratings. Image: Euro NCAP

As regards lane support systems, Euro NCAP says that trucks running off the road or veering into opposite lanes account for 40 per cent of fatali­ties from single vehicle crash­es, and four per cent of those from head-on collisions.

“Lane Support Systems (LSS) can prevent these crashes and whilst a warn­ing is obligatory in new vehi­cles, Euro NCAP will test for systems that can prevent the vehicle moving out of lane by actively steering the vehicle,” it said.

“Lane support systems use cameras to identify white lines and road edges where there are no white lines helping to reduce fatigue and making our roads safer.”

Electronic ‘mirrors’, that replace actual mirrors with a camera monitoring system, are also being included. They present a larger field of view than equivalent mirrors and with less image distortion, says Euro NCAP – and can in some cases adapt the view to the driving situation, for example by providing a wider angle when an artic is turning so that the driver can see the trailer’s rear.

“These systems can also be especially useful when inte­grated with blind spot informa­tion and warning systems, to focus the attention of the driv­er on the cab location where the potential hazard can be seen, identified and avoided,” said Euro NCAP.

The addition of crash testing of trucks from 2030 – a key ten­et of the organisation’s existing passenger car scheme – will aim to further drive up safety. Swedish trucks in particular have had to meet crash impact tests for decades, but recent years have seen a multitude of passive and active safety sys­tems introduced and mandated across the industry, including the most recent revisions of the dimensions legislation which allows for longer cabs to incorporate crumple zones.

The arrival of electric trucks in particular has spurred man­ufacturers to develop systems to protect batteries from im­pacts and fires.