Active and passive safety – what systems protect the truck driver?
Active and passive safety are systems, technologies, subassemblies and the design of vehicles, which aim to improve the safety of the driver, passengers and other road users. Each subsequent year brings new solutions to prevent road accidents and minimize their consequences. In this article, you will find out the difference between active and passive safety and how active safety systems in a truck can save lives.
Table of contents
Active safety – what is it?
Active safety consists of preventing accidents and collisions. It involves all the systems, technologies and solutions that are of a preventive nature. Modern vehicles have advanced anti-collision systems that can react with sudden braking if a pedestrian suddenly barges in front of a vehicle. This is possible thanks to numerous sensors, as well as, analysis of driving speed and the road ahead in real time.
Modern standards promoted by vehicle safety assessment organizations such as Euro NCAP and IIHS strongly emphasize active safety. However, the role of the driver, who is the most important element of this chain, given their experience and ability to react quickly, cannot be underestimated.
Active safety systems
Many active safety solutions have been in most cars for a very long time. These are mirrors, lighting, wide windows or even the shape of the bodywork that reduces air resistance and maximizes downforce to the driving surface. Among the popular systems, it is also worth mentioning the anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability program (ESP), and traction control (ASR). Typical elements, such as an efficient braking system or tires adapted to the season, also have an impact on active safety.
Passive safety – what is it?
The passive safety system is understood to be all the features, properties and sub-assemblies of the car, the purpose of which is to minimize the effects of collisions and road accidents. One could even say that passive safety systems are useful when active safety turns out to be insufficient. These are primarily:
- seat belts and their pretensioners
- airbags and air curtains
- seat headrests
- front belt structural reinforcements
- controlled crumple zones
- glued vehicle windows
- appropriate arrangement of sub-assemblies under the hood in order to prevent ignition or their displacement into the vehicle cabin
How does the active system protect the truck driver?
Driving a truck and tractor with a semi-trailer comes with a lot of responsibility. Drivers of such vehicles must be careful, as the consequences of their oversight can be much more destructive than in the case of passenger cars. Active safety systems in a truck allow you to limit uncontrolled movements of the vehicle and semi-trailer, shorten the braking distance or even improve visibility from the driver’s cabin.
Active safety protects both the truck driver and those around the truck. Particularly noteworthy is the ABS system, which supports braking, the driver fatigue monitoring system to prevent the driver from falling asleep at the wheel, power steering, as well as additional convex mirrors limiting the blind spot.
The stability control system also plays a key role in trucks. It noticeably reduces the risk of skidding while keeping the tractor and trailer on track. This is possible thanks to the simultaneous regulation of the torque when braking individual tractor wheels and controlling the trailer braking system. In modern trucks, this is a fully electronic system that adapts to the current speed and other relevant factors.
Safety in a truck – what are the differences?
The design and ergonomics of trucks differ significantly from passenger cars or even vans. Given that they have to transport large and heavy loads, these vehicles must be sufficiently heavy and durable. The driver of a truck is seated much higher than in a passenger car. This is dictated by the improvement in the visibility range, car design and safety. The load-bearing structure of the cabin is constructed in such a way as to absorb as much energy as possible during a potential collision. Appropriate mirror systems with different width and zoom ranges, facilitating road manoeuvres, are also important.
Changes in the law on driver working time are one of the ways to promote active safety by reducing fatigue among professional drivers. After all, it is the driver who has the greatest impact on safety, with their behaviour and ability to adapt to the conditions on the road.
What regulations govern safety systems?
- The Road Traffic Act of June 20, 1997.
- Regulation of the Minister of Infrastructure on the technical conditions of vehicles and the scope of their required equipment of 31 December 2002.
- Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 of the European Parliament and of the Council on requirements for approving types of motor vehicles and their trailers, and for systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, with regard to their general safety and the protection of vehicle occupants and unprotected road users of November 27, 2019.
Active and passive safety contribute to the gradual reduction of the number of accidents and their casualties in the world. When investing money in the purchase of a new vehicle and comparing the configuration of cars available on the market, it is worth paying more attention to active safety systems than to additional features that improve driving comfort. A heated steering wheel makes driving more comfortable in the winter, but it will not protect us from an accident, unlike active anti-collision systems.