Volvo Trucks rolls out winter safety technology
Stretch Brake system makes pulling trailers downhill safer and easier
Volvo Trucks is to roll out its Stretch Brake technology to FH and FM semi-trailer rigs in 2014. The system makes pulling trailers on winter roads easier and safer.
Towing trailers on wet or icy winter roads with downhill gradients can be challenging even for the most experienced of haulage drivers. There is always the risk of the rig becoming unstable, and in the worst-case scenario, jack-knifing.
It is for this reason that Volvo Trucks developed its Stretch Brake technology. The system complements a rig’s electronic stability programme (ESP). While ESPs are at their most effective as a truck is moving at higher speeds, the Stretch Brake system only operates at speeds lower than 40km/h.
“With effective brakes, stability systems and collision warning systems, we are already helping drivers avoid risky situations in difficult conditions,” explained Carl Johan Almqvist, traffic and product safety director at Volvo Trucks. “Stretch Brake is yet another important part of our long-term drive to increase traffic safety and minimise the number of accidents involving trucks.”
Stretch Brake was introduced for Volvo FH and FM trucks pulling drawbar trailers in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The Stretch Brake system automatically slows trailers and straightens up rigs on slippery, downhill stretches.
“One might call Stretch Brake a kind of low-speed ESP,” commented Volvo Trucks brake specialist Mats Sabelström. “As the rig approaches a downhill slope, the driver manually activates the system. When the driver then releases the accelerator, the brakes on the trailer are automatically applied in a pulsated mode all the way down the hill until the gradient levels out and speed can once again be increased.”
According to the CARE 2011 database, approximately 15% of Europe’s most serious road accidents involve trucks. The Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team has estimated that around 60 of the truck accidents that occurred in Sweden alone last year could have been avoided with the Stretch Brake system.