The passenger side turn is one of the most difficult traffic situations to handle when driving a truck in a city. Volvo Trucks’ accident research shows that an accident can occur even when the driver has looked to make sure no cyclist or pedestrian is coming. Anna Wrige Berling, Traffic and Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks, tells us how these observations led to the development of the passenger corner camera.
The passenger side turn accidents account for around 20% of accidents involving heavy trucks and vulnerable road users (VRU), making it a significant area of concern. The fact that trucks and cyclists or pedestrians share the same lane and get a green light at the same time adds complexity to the situation. Limited visibility from the cab and incorrectly adjusted mirrors can also be factors involved in this kind of accident.
“Our research has confirmed what we and the industry already knew; this particular type of accident needs to be addressed. But what makes Volvo Trucks’ way of working unique is that our Accident Research Team is involved from the start. The data gathered in our accident research was the basis for the development of the passenger corner camera,” says Anna Wrige Bergling.
“Our work starts with the problem. To understand a safety problem, we investigate and research traffic accidents thoroughly.”
The Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team then categorise the scenarios into type accidents creating an overview of what the accidents look like, how they happen and their main causes.
“Our categorisation focuses on the accidents from the truck’s perspective,” she says. “This is essential to get a good understanding of accident statistics involving heavy trucks. The research is used both internally, for prioritisation and clear guidance in Volvo Trucks’ product development, but also externally to spread our knowledge on how traffic safety can be improved.”
When focusing on a specific traffic situation, several details are investigated. Like, for example, the speed of pedestrians, cyclists and trucks and the angle at which the accident usually occurs.
“These factors gave us an idea about which area the passenger corner camera actually needed to cover. A narrow view might not show a cyclist travelling at high speed,” says Anna.
Anna Wrige Berling is confident that the camera has the ability to help drivers avoid a significant number of accidents. Even though drivers need to be on their toes, a busy intersection can put too much pressure on them and consequently affect their focus and attention.
“The camera image covers the angles of several mirrors – and more. Which means the driver has less views to keep track of,” she says.
A new upcoming regulatory demand will stipulate that by 2024, trucks need to be equipped with warning systems with sensors to detect pedestrians and cyclists. The passenger corner camera though, which has been featured on Volvo Trucks since 2021, was not driven by a regulatory demand.
“Even after complying with the legislation on sensors, we see a need, based on our research, for complementary equipment with an actual view of the critical area,” says Anna.
”We are proud of the work we did with this feature, and hope that it will save lives and contribute to safer roads. Because real safety comes from real knowledge.”
The most common accident between trucks and cyclists in urban environment is when the truck is turning. It typically occurs when a truck turns towards the passenger side and the pedestrian or cyclist is going straight ahead. It ssually occurs at low truck speeds, around 20-30 km/h, but consequences are often severe for the pedestrian or cyclist. Common causes are:
Learn more about safety research at Volvo Trucks.