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Putting Safety First

MAN Truck & Bus Middle East’s Franz Freiherr von Redwitz says education for everyone is key to saving lives on the road

By Matthew Treanor

The battle to make the roads of the UAE safer is slowly being won but there is still much more to do if it is to achieve its goal of three deaths per 100,000 population per annum by 2021.

According to Brigadier Ghaith Al Zaabi, director general of Traffic Coordination at the Ministry of Interior, the percentage of deaths decreased from 2008 to 2015 by 37 percent. Between 2014 and 2015 alone there was a drop of 5.1 percent, bringing the number of deaths per 100,000 below six (at 5.99) for the first time.

The latest figures mark a fall from 6.71 per 100,000 in 2012 but there were still almost 675 fatalities across the UAE in 2015. Unfortunately commercial vehicle drivers and owners continue to be a contributor to the list of accidents in the country. For instance, according to the latest Dubai Traffic Police figures, there were 74 accidents last year in the emirate; resulting in 13 deaths involving heavy trucks and 97 accidents resulting in 17 deaths involving light trucks.

German giant MAN Truck & Bus Middle East has placed itself at the forefront of road safetyman-managing-director-franz-freiherr-von-redwitz initiatives in the Emirates, providing training and advice to hundreds of drivers, fleet owners and stakeholders in recent years. Recognising its own role to play in reducing fatalities, managing director Franz Freiherr von Redwitz says the automaker will continue to be engaged in a number of activities it hopes will prove effective; and ultimately save lives.

“With its global expertise in the field of vehicle safety and road safety, MAN can contribute in a number of ways in enhancing road safety in the UAE – such as supporting the introduction of road transport regulations, providing training and education for transport operators and enforcement officers, and supporting the introduction of mandatory vehicle specification standards for new product deliveries,” he comments.

November saw MAN host the inaugural Road Safety Event for Commercial Vehicles event in collaboration with the local government and safety campaign organisation RoadSafetyUAE. The event brought together representatives from both the public and private sector to examine how heavy trucks and commercial vehicles drivers and owners can become safer and more responsible road users. It also highlighted the various road safety initiatives and programmes being carried out in the UAE, as well as MAN’s own advice and insight into making (its own and others’) heavy vehicles safer.

MAN has worked tirelessly for years in Europe and more recently the Middle East to develop a huge variety of educational and technological initiatives. Its trucks are equipped with a variety of technology designed to improve active and passive vehicle safety such as Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to prevent accidents caused by overturning or straying from the lane, Anti-Spin Regulator (ASR) to aid controlled braking, and Electronic Damping Control (EDC) to optimise safety and handling.

Participants at the event were able to learn how it continues to pursue improved safety on UAE roads. They could also take an interactive iPad-guided ‘Road Safety Walk Around’ tour of the latest road safety technologies on two visiting MAN trucks.

One of MAN’s most significant contributions to road safety – ProfiDrive – featured high on the agenda too. Held across 25 countries, almost 4,000 drivers, fleet managers, vehicle transfer personnel, driving instructors and specialists annually take part on MAN’s range of training courses that combine theoretical and practical exercises that can make every-day driving safer and more economic.

“Improving road safety is one of our highest priorities at MAN and we have many products available today in terms of technology solutions and driver training support which have been developed after many years of research based on various accident reports,” explains von Reditz. “Designed to improve driver knowledge and skills and promote rational driving behaviour based on safety regulations, the courses are carefully tailored to ensure drivers are fully trained on how to avoid risks on the road based on a cautious and safe driving style, and seek to guide them on the correct way to respond to critical driving situations.”

Von Reditz says he is an advocate of warning against the dangers of driver fatigue and of educating all road users. He argues that all car drivers need to understand factors surrounding stopping distances, and how they can vary depending on vehicle type and speed.

“However, when it comes to accidents involving trucks, the results are usually deadly,” he remarks. “For instance, a semi-trailer truck takes roughly three times more to stop than a car and hence one must never pull in front of a semi-trailer truck and brake abruptly.”

Turning his attention to fleet owners and managers, he warns that it is essential that they understand the value of surrounding training with support and monitoring.

“The impact of driver education and training on vehicle performance and safety is hugely underestimated in the region. As a result, many fleet owners are reluctant to invest in driver education,” he says. “Also, there is a common misconception that the current situation can be changed solely by focusing on driver education and training. While driver education is of course hugely important, the driver basically executes what a supervisor or transport manager requires, so it is paramount that fleet owners and managers adopt a more proactive approach to safety.”

Von Reditz and MAN understands that it will need to continue to bring together the commercial sector and other stakeholders if its campaign is to prove a long-term success.

“Through our safety campaign, we aim to highlight the top reasons that impact road safety from a commercial vehicle perspective such as load of the vehicle, driver alertness, worn tyres and incorrect/incomplete maintenance,” he explains. “It is an important step towards greater cross-stakeholder collaboration that will help make the country’s roads safer.

“MAN has an ongoing commitment to improving road safety and we will continue to offer our support and expertise to help the UAE achieve its road safety targets. Targeted initiatives and campaigns aimed at raising road safety awareness and improving driver education are essential to achieving these goals, and this will continue to be a focus area for us moving forward.”

How truck users can save lives

  • It is not only the gross vehicle weight that can affect safety. Load positioning and distribution too can have consequences for road safety, hence it important to know how to load your vehicle for safety. Severe overloading of the drive axle or under-loading of the trailer axle can adversely affect steering, braking and speed control.
  • Tyre suitability is a vital link in the load-to-road chain. Care must be taken to ensure that the maximum load rating for a tire is never exceeded.
  • Driver alertness is critical. If a driver has not slept in 17 hours, their driving ability is similar to a driver who is driving under the influence of alcohol. Today we have technology alternatives available – such as Tachographs – to monitor driver working hours which have a huge impact on accident rates. The Tachograph helps in enabling enforcement of rules related to drivers’ hours, and functions as an aid to road safety. Using a combined speedometer and clock, the Tachograph records automatically on a paper disc the vehicle’s speed, distance travelled, and time spent on the road, helping keep tired drivers off the roads.
  • When it comes to braking, having an understanding of the complete interrelationship of systems is important. Mismatch of tractor-trailer combinations can result in an unsafe vehicle in operation.
  • Maintenance has a large part to play in safety. Regular maintenance is essential to ensuring the safety of your vehicle and keeping it running at peak efficiency.
  • Intelligent technology solutions such as MAN TeleMatics can significantly contribute to enhancing vehicle safety and efficiency by providing drivers and fleet managers with essential data to optimise vehicle usage and plan services well in advance

 

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