AEBS truck graphic with driver

Source: Driving for Better Business and Thatcham Research

Advanced emergency braking systems (AEBS), also referred to as autonomous and automatic braking systems, activates the brakes when a potential collision is detected and is highly effective in stopping or minimising the severity of a crash where the driver has failed to react.

AEBS are standard on most new HGVs sold in the UK since 2015.

Drivers and operators of HGVs need to understand how it works, what it does and why it’s vital.

AEBS works in three stages, each activating only if the driver has failed to act and a crash looks likely:

1: An audio-visual warning on the dashboard if the system spots that the truck could potentially collide with traffic in front.

2: A short, sharp application of the brakes to grab the driver’s attention if it seems a collision remains likely and the driver has failed to respond with either a steering or braking input. The system also charges the braking system in readiness for full application.

3: If a collision is still imminent, the brakes are applied using the full force of the system – braking harder than the driver would be able to do on their own, bringing the vehicle to a halt or, if that is not possible, significantly reducing impact speed.

“There are two main types of AEBS,” said Simon Turner, campaign manager for Driving for Better Business.

“All have RADAR looking far ahead, but the more sophisticated systems also feature forward-facing cameras to provide additional input into the system to ‘see’ road markings and signs. There are, however, limitations which drivers and operators need to understand to ensure they maximise the safety benefits of this technology.

"For example, if the truck’s speed is too high, the system might not be able to bring the vehicle to full stop but the impact should still be less severe.

"The systems are only designed to avoid collisions with vehicles directly in front of the truck so a vehicle that is partially in the truck’s path – say a broken-down car at the side of the road, half on and half off the carriageway, may not be ‘seen’ by the system. We’ve just produced a simple, short animation to explain all these points which Transport Managers can download and share with their drivers.” Downloads available below.

Video: a driver's guide to AEBS

Video: a transport manager's guide to AEBS

Download information on AEBS

For drivers: download a driver poster

For transport managers: download the AEBS factsheet

Matthew Avery, chief research strategy Officer at Thatcham Research, said: “AEBS is a crucial safety system, and we need to raise awareness of the life-saving benefits the technology can bring, not only to HGV drivers but other road users too.

"Heavy trucks contribute to a higher collision severity leading to a disproportionate amount of casualties in crashes involving heavy vehicles. AEBS plays a very important role in road safety especially with the recent changes made to the highway code and the increased level of responsibility HGV drivers face in a collision.”

And roads minister Baroness Vere said: “I’m grateful to Driving for Better Business for producing this informative guidance. I would urge all HGV drivers and operators to learn more about and use this innovative technology, which could potentially be life-saving on the road.”

Video: a Volvo Truck in an advanced emergency braking systems demonstration