Risk: Systems help make life safer for van drivers

Jason Airey, managing director of CMS SupaTrak, said: “Research has shown that under- or over-inflated tyres can affect a vehicle in many ways, including increased fuel consumption, greater carbon footprint, reduction in the life of the tyre and increased accident rate.

"All of these factors show just how important it is to regularly check tyre pressures.”

Telematics specialist Navman Wireless also highlighted how systems can improve van safety.

Steve Blackburn, European vice-president at Navman Wireless UK, said: “The advancement and adoption of telematics as part of a new safety ethos could lead to a dramatic drop in accidents.

“Our  Smart Telematics system, for example, has been designed to provide critical real-time data about vehicle and driver performance, enabling businesses to make informed decisions that can help improve safety. Data could be used to identify at-risk driver behaviour.

“This, coupled with the right training and incentive programme, can be the catalyst for creating a safe driving culture.

"Our advanced maintenance module also provides in-depth reports outlining maintenance requirements.

"This helps fleet managers safeguard themselves, their business and drivers from risks such as bald tyres, low air pressure or faulty lights.”

Safety technology: what it all means

Electronic stability control (ESC)

ESC improves the driver’s control over the vehicle in critical situations – for example, if there is a risk of skidding.

ESC compares the vehicle’s intended direction with its actual track.

If there is a discrepancy between the driver’s instructions and the vehicle’s reactions, the system takes corrective action instantly, either by reducing the engine power or by selective actuation of one or more brakes.

ESC combines the functions of anti-lock brakes (ABS), acceleration skid control (ASR) and brake assist (BAS), to which it also adds a stability aid.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS)

ABS prevents the wheels from locking during braking. Speed sensors continuously monitor the speed of each wheel.

If a wheel is on the point of locking up, the brake pressure at that wheel is immediately reduced.

When the danger has been averted, the pressure is then re-applied. It allows the driver to steer the vehicle, even during emergency braking.

When ABS is in operation, the driver feels a slight pulsing in the brake pedal.

Acceleration skid control (ASR)

At the first sign of wheelspin, that is to say if the rotational speed of one of the drive wheels suddenly increases, ASR intervenes in the engine management system to reduce engine power and also in the brake system to prevent wheelspin.

ASR ensures smooth start-off and acceleration without wheelspin or sideways drift. The result is improved traction and safety – particularly on mixed traction or slippery surfaces.

Brake assist (BAS)

In tests carried out in a driving simulator, research engineers discovered that drivers do not apply the brakes vigorously enough during emergency braking.

This finding led them to develop the brake assist system.

From the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed, BAS is able to detect a situation where emergency braking is required.

In such a situation, the system automatically increases braking power, aided by the anti-lock braking system which prevents the wheels from locking up.

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