Actively reducing risk: Taking stock of the safety systems available for medium-duty trucks

Actively reducing risk: Taking stock of the safety systems available for medium-duty trucks

In medium-duty commercial operations, safety systems are becoming more important and prevalent as fleets seek to reduce the risk of their trucks being involved in accidents, to improve the safety of drivers and to potentially lower insurance costs.


In medium-duty commercial operations, safety systems are becoming more important and prevalent as fleets seek to reduce the risk of their trucks being involved in accidents, to improve the safety of drivers and to potentially lower insurance costs. As a result, a variety of active safety technologies such as brake assist, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning solutions are now available.

“Most of Bendix’s safety technologies for Class 8 trucks are suitable for Class 6 and 7 air-braked vehicles,” says Fred Andersky, director of marketing and customer solutions—controls at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. “The ROI for these safety systems is proven, and although it varies by OEM and product line, the continuing evolution of driver assistance and collision mitigation systems is underway and we’re going to see more iterations down the road.

“As we look into the future, we see more innovative integrated safety technologies, including things like steering control systems,” Andersky adds. “Systems like electronic parking brakes will become a key way to mitigate rollaway crashes, and we’ll be getting into more automated applications like highway pilot, turning assist and yard maneuvering solutions. These are all technologies that will help medium-duty truck drivers do their jobs more safely.”

Already available from Kenworth as an option on T270 and T370 medium-duty trucks is the Bendix Wingman Fusion driver assistance system that integrates radar, cameras and the vehicle’s foundation brakes. Built on the Bendix ESP full stability program, Wingman Fusion offers enhanced collision mitigation, lane departure warning, stationary vehicle braking and over speed alerts.  

Kenworth also offers the Bendix Wingman Advanced system on the T270 and T370. This radar-based collision mitigation system delivers adaptive cruise control with braking, along with autonomous emergency braking technology to help mitigate rear-end collisions.

Using a radar sensor mounted to the front of the vehicle, Bendix Wingman Advanced delivers alerts to drivers and active interventions. The system provides following distance, impact and stationary object alerts, which are always available whether or not cruise control is engaged. When drivers engage cruise control and set speed, the system actively intervenes to help them maintain a safe following distance behind another vehicle by reducing throttle, engaging the engine retarder or, if necessary, applying the foundation brakes.

Cab designs

Among the wide range of safety designs from medium-duty truck manufacturers is the Hexa-pod cab from Isuzu. “With the cab design, visibility for a driver is less than eight feet in front of the truck,” explains Brian Tabel, executive director of marketing at Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. “A large number of medium-duty trucks run in neighborhoods and tight streets, so the ability to see that close can make a difference. Isuzu is continuing to look at improving safety in its medium-duty models and we believe we will continue to see changes in the next few years.”

Ford Super Duty models, reports Kevin Koester, Ford’s medium-duty truck and Super Duty fleet marketing manager, come with standard AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC) and trailer sway control systems. AdvanceTrac and RSC use gyroscopic sensors and apply a combination of reduced engine power and selective wheel braking to help maintain control of the vehicle and a trailer in tow.

On Ford F-650 and F-750 models, Koester notes, available Electronic Stability Control (ESC) helps detect oversteer, understeer and loss of traction. The antilock brake system and traction control combine with ESC sensors to detect wheel slip and act as tools to conquer poor driving conditions.

“With medium-duty trucks operated by non-CDL drivers, safety technologies help mitigate risk for operators who may not have extensive experience operating a larger vehicle,” Koester says. “We plan to add driver assist technologies like automatic emergency braking and continue to pursue features that meet the requirements of our medium-duty fleet customers.”

Active safety systems from Meritor on Freightliner medium-duty trucks include WABCO OnGuardActive adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation solutions, and Bendix AutoVue lane departure warning systems.


Contributing to safety

“For the medium-duty segment, safety systems are becoming more popular with fleets,” says Kelly Gedert, director of product marketing at Freightliner Trucks and Detroit Components. “These systems provide a great option for fleets to contribute to the increased safety of their drivers and other motorists.”

Tim Wrinkle, Mack construction product manager, notes that the OEM’s Granite MHD medium-duty model can be specified with a RollTek seat, which combines seat belt pre-tensioners, automatic seat lowering to increase survival space and an integral side airbag that deploys for head and neck protection.

In addition, all Granite MHD models come standard with Mack Road Stability Advantage by Bendix to reduce the potential for a rollover accident. The system uses ABS wheel speed sensors, and steering, yaw and lateral acceleration inputs to deactivate the throttle and selectively apply the brakes in sharp curves, and during sudden lane changes or obstacle avoidance maneuvers.

Available from Mitsubishi Fuso on its medium-duty models is the Mobileye collision avoidance system. The system analyzes the risk of forward collision, lane departure, headway/following time, excessive speed, and pedestrian hazards, and when a threat is detected warns the driver with visual and audible alerts in real time.

Every Peterbilt truck is equipped with the latest active and passive safety features to protect not only the driver, but also those around the vehicle, the manufacturer notes. For example, the trucks are designed for maximum visibility from the driver’s position, with the width and angle of the windshield, the location of the mirrors and the slope of the hood optimized to ensure a clear view of the road.

Peterbilt also offers collision mitigation technology on medium-duty trucks, including advanced radar and camera technologies with multiple levels of functionality for lane keeping, adaptive cruise control and stationary object braking.

On International medium-duty trucks, Bendix Wingman Advanced, Bendix Wingman Fusion, Bendix Blind Spotter, air disc brakes and RollTek seating are all available options.

Check out the rest of the June digital edition of Fleet Equipment here.

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