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            november 18, 2019

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Ahead of its time

  08.11.2019    

Accident on the Autobahn. In an avoiding manoeuvre a Mercedes-Benz truck skidded and crashed through the guardrail. Such scenarios are fortunately seldom – thanks especially to the driver assistance systems installed nowadays. Nevertheless, such an accident always alerts the accident researchers at Mercedes-Benz. If the owner and the driver agree, and the vehicle has not been impounded by the police or public prosecutor, usually the accident vehicle will be examined following recovery – along with the appropriate investigations by the police, emergency rescue services or appraiser.
This procedure has a tradition: since 1972 Commercial Vehicle Accident Research at Daimler Trucks has been investigating accidents involving Mercedes-Benz trucks Germany-wide, in order to derive optimisation measures for active and passive safety. "Real-life accidents optimally show us the need for action, where and how we can make our vehicles even safer and in keeping with our vision of accident-free driving prevent accidents altogether or at least mitigate their consequences for all road users", emphasized Stefan Buchner, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, at the Mercedes-Benz Trucks Safety Dialogue of 2019 on 7 November 2019 in Berlin.

Holistic philosophy
So that we can learn from the past for the future, accident research generally documents all information on the circumstances of the accident, the vehicles involved and the damage incurred. Accident researchers look for conspicuous aspects pertaining to, for example, the frequency of types of accidents, the discernibility of certain patterns of events or to injuries to persons involved in accidents. "We consider our detailed studies to be indispensable for assessing the behaviour of the vehicle in actual accidents", explains Kay Morschheuser, Head of Commercial Vehicle Accident Analyses at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. Only then will it be possible continually to incorporate further improvements in the vehicle. Also indispensable are crash tests as systematically conducted at Mercedes-Benz Trucks for many years.
This approach also follows the holistic concept of "integral safety" already being pursued by Mercedes-Benz for many years, whereby the passive and active systems installed in the vehicle provide support in four phases: first during driving, second in the event of danger, third in an accident and fourth after an accident.

Head start through research
In the development of safety and driver assistance systems Mercedes-Benz Trucks has been playing a pioneering role for some time. Numerous systems have been installed in the individual model series long before such systems became legally required. For example, as early as 1981 Mercedes-Benz became the first manufacturer to introduce the anti-lock braking system (ABS) for trucks. Anti-slip control (ASR) followed a few years later. Together with the launch of the first Actros in 1996, Mercedes-Benz Trucks again set the standard with its electronic brake system (EBS). Proximity Control Assist and the Lane Assistant followed in 2000 as further revolutionary safety systems, and then, in 2001, the electronic stability program (ESP) for trucks. Together with the second generation of the Actros, the hill holder as a starting-off aid and the brake assistance system made their début in 2002.
In 2006 Active Brake Assist (ABA) heralded a new era for safety systems: for the first time a truck could automatically brake for slowly moving obstacles in front. The following years witnessed the consistent further development of ABA. Today, within its system limits ABA 5 is capable of carrying out emergency braking when encountering pedestrians crossing its path, approaching from the front, walking ahead or suddenly halting when startled. Also deserving mention is Sideguard Assist, available on the market ex works from Mercedes-Benz Trucks since 2016 and contributing to the avoidance of accidents with pedestrians and cyclists. Finally, analyses in accident research led to the idea of Active Drive Assist, allowing partially automated driving for the first time in a production truck, as well as to the MirrorCam superseding conventional main and wide-angle mirrors.
However the systems may differ in character, one thing unites them: together they create a safe work environment for truck drivers and within system limits help compensate for the sort of human error at the wheel that is unavoidable in hectic everyday driving – to the benefit of all road users.



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