Towards zero accidents with safety research

Understanding accidents is a key factor in learning how to avoid them. Since 1969, Volvo Trucks’ Accident Research Team has analysed accident statistics and investigated more than 1,700 truck accidents. 

The insights this work provides are essential for us to be able to create even safer trucks. We share our findings with society so that all trucks can become safer. Together we can work towards the only acceptable number of fatal accidents: zero. 

In-depth knowledge about the traffic environment is crucial for effective product development.

The work by Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team is ongoing and the information gained is used as a basis for the development of our products to become as safe as possible.

Six common accidents with heavy trucks

Every accident is different and has its own unique cause. Even so,  when you deep dive into the statistics, several common factors emerge. These statistics form the basis for Volvo Trucks Research team's work. By studying accidents in a structured way and categorising them in terms of type, we can draw better conclusions and set the right future requirements. Here are six common truck accident types that involve three kinds of road users: truck drivers, car drivers (and passengers) and vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists etc.). 

Collision with oncoming car

Collision with an oncoming car is the most common truck accident that leads to severe injury or fatality for car occupants. They typically occur as a result of too high speed, driver inattention or a misjudged/incorrect overtaking. In the majority of cases, the car enters the lane of the truck. These accidents often have a severe outcome for the car occupant, due to the high relative speed and the big difference in weight between the truck and the car.

Intersection accident with a car

These are accidents in which a truck and a car collide at an intersection. It can either be the truck front that impacts the car side or vice versa. These types of accidents are often caused by a failure to give way. Excessive speed or limited visibility can also have an impact on the risk of accident. 

Crossing pedestrian

These collisions usually affect pedestrians, but moped riders and cyclists are also at risk. Crossing accidents occur when the pedestrian crosses in front of a truck travelling at moderate to high speed. They usually occur in urban areas, and there can be several causes for this type of accident: for example,  truck driver inattention or limited visibility. Pedestrian inattention or misjudgment of the speed of the truck are other causes.  

Turning accident with cyclist

Turning accidents usually affect cyclists, but pedestrians and moped riders are also at risk. The accidents often occur at traffic light-controlled intersections where both the cyclist and truck have a green light, causing the cyclist to trust the light without looking. The speed of the truck is often low as it turns, but the speed of the cyclist can be low or high. It is common that the truck driver hasn't noticed the cyclist, due to limited visibility from the cab, or that the driver´s attention is on other traffic in the busy intersection. A cyclist's lack of understanding of the truck’s intentions can also contribute. 

Lane departure accidents

Lane departure accidents are those where the truck leaves its lane, and even the road itself. It often involves the truck rolling over or colliding with an object. Main causes of this type of accident include driver inattention or fatigue, as well as swerving to avoid obstacles. They are also common in winter driving when the roads are slippery, or the edge of the road is not clearly visible.

Colliding with the rear of another truck

Collision with a truck that is standing still or travelling at lower speed in the same lane is a very common accident type in which truck occupants are severely or even fatally injured. The most common causes are driver inattention or driving too close to the vehicle in front. Limited visibility or slippery roads can, of course, contribute as well.  This usually results in the main impact on the passenger’s side. 

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