Euro NCAP takes a closer look at trucks

In News4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 14, 2023

The European vehicle safety assessment program Euro NCAP will expand its scope of activities and evaluate heavy trucks.

According to International Transport Forum estimates, road freight transport is expected to  triple by 2050, and trucks are already disproportionately involved in accidents with injuries and fatalities. While they account for only 1.5% of registered vehicles on Europe’s roads, accidents involving trucks account for nearly 15% of traffic fatalities in the EU.

“Vision Zero cannot be achieved without addressing the challenges that trucks pose on our roads,” said Euro NCAP’s safety experts.

“Advanced driver assistance systems are now standard equipment on most European passenger cars, helping to reduce accidents by more than 40%,” said Matthew Avery of vehicle safety firm Thatcham Research in the Euro NCAP Safer Trucks: on the Road to Vision Zero report.

“Heavy trucks experience the same accidents, but are not equipped with this technology, resulting in a disproportionate number of casualties in accidents involving heavy vehicles,” he said.

With this in mind, the organization is planning a new Truck Safe rating system, which, according to its approach developed over the past decades, will include electronic safety measures and driver assistance systems. This rating system will allow all players in the freight industry to identify and assess the safety level of equipment in their truck fleets. This will not only improve driver safety, but also create a market for safe technologies, allowing manufacturers to innovate and improve their offerings within a clear safety framework based on Euro NCAP principles.

The ratings will also enable cities and authorities to identify the best vehicles for their roads and incentivize their adoption. Fleet operators will thus be able to determine the vehicle specifications they must meet in highway agency programs.

However, the relevant safety parameters for trucks differ greatly depending on their type of use. Therefore, Euro NCAP said the “one size fits all” principle is not appropriate for trucks. For example, many trucks are used from depot to depot and never come close to a built-up area. Others are tasked with distributing goods in cities, and still others, such as 4-axle rigid dump trucks, must navigate off-road sites, dirt roads, highways and city centers.

“It doesn’t make sense to promote a city-specific safety solution for a truck that never enters an urban area – that would add cost without providing benefit,” the report said.

“However, if vehicles without safety systems are approved for urban areas, it is only right that cities try to keep them away from areas where these risks are high.”

On this basis, the organisation has developed a concept that provides a dual assessment of truck safety for urban and rural roads. All vehicles are assessed against both sets of criteria. When vehicle operators purchase a vehicle for a specific purpose, they also need only consider the corresponding rating. Only general-purpose vehicles must score well on both ratings.