Safety as a cost saver

Volvo FH, one of the world’s safest trucks, is an innovation leader in high quality safety features. Together with the driver’s conscious safety mindset, investing in safety features can contribute to cost savings for transport companies. We met Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks, to talk about how.
Carl Johan Almqvist and a Volvo FH
Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks

Safety has been the signature for Volvo Trucks throughout all times. From the three point seat belt to today’s advanced safety technology, like the Volvo Dynamic Steering features, safety has always been one of the core values for the company. Another big contributor to safety is the braking system, with disc brakes that reduce the braking distance significantly.

In addition, there is also the electronic stability control that reduces the risk of skidding and roll-over in sharp road curves. Through tough tests and constant development, the Volvo trucks have remained among the safest trucks in the world. The Volvo FH is not an exception.

”The safety features we offer play a very important role in securing better and safer operations for the customers and the drivers. But one has to remember that the perfect match is achieved when you combine the latest safety innovations with a safe driver behaviour”, says Carl Johan Almqvist.

According to the Volvo Trucks Safety Report 2017, there is only one acceptable number of accidents in traffic. Zero. Reducing the risk of traffic related accidents means putting safety in the forefront of the daily trucking operations and understanding the connections to the people involved and also the transport companies and society.

Keeping a safe truck and a safe driver are the most important elements to further decrease the number of accidents, and are, by themselves, incitements to invest in a Volvo FH, a truck that embodies safety and helps saving lives. But there is more to it. Even minor accidents have consequences – first and foremost to the people involved but also to the transport companies and society.

”The reality is, that safety investments can reduce costs and downtime. The below figure* shows us how the direct costs – driver health recovery, vehicle repair costs and vehicle downtime when a truck is being repaired – are easy to measure. However they represent only a small proportion of the total accident-related costs. Indirect costs are often considerably higher.

For example, damaged goods, the vehicle and driver recovery/fatality as well as the disruption to the daily business routine is leading to delays in deliveries and these things are hidden costs that could have been avoided if the incidents didn’t take place in the first place. To put it simply, investing in safety means increased productivity and uptime”, explains Carl Johan Almqvist.

In a business like a haulage company, the downtime is crucial. According to Carl Johan Almqvist, the risk of losing money can be an incitement as good as any other to put safety first.

”Basically, prioritising safety is a win-win situation. If you have few or no incidents, you have more on-the-road time and you, to put it harshly, reduce your costs. In addition, you keep your driver and other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safer. Last but not least, you also avoid the soft costs, i.e. damage to your reputation or image.”

But, like mentioned earlier, the safety features alone won’t do the job. Carl Johan Almqvist points out that it will always be an interaction between the systems and, the most important asset, the driver.

Volvo Trucks safety features are not a comfort system. They compose a support system for the driver. The most important for everybody who works with road safety is to train and focus on a safe driver. It’s all about the driver and the key role drivers play when it comes to safety, fuel efficiency and productivity. In fact, to reach the overall business success, the driver makes all the difference.”

But realizing that the driver comes first, sometimes takes time and sometimes it takes even an accident. Carl Johan Almqvist explains further:

“We see that it is easier to invest in a safe truck after an incident, where a company has experienced fatalities. This shows that safety in many ways is connected to emotional values. We would like to see more companies thinking ahead, investing in safety before anything happens.”

Volvo Trucks works with ways to raise this awareness, with campaigns like ”Stop Look Wave” and “See and Be Seen”, where the aim is to help children understand how to interact with the truck driver to be safer in traffic.

”They do make a difference, in people’s mind set. We all need to interact, and with the support from high quality safety features in our trucks, we are well on our way to our vision of zero accidents, at the same time as we save costs. Again, a win-win situation”, concludes Carl Johan Almqvist.

4 revolutionary Volvo Trucks safety features

Connected Safety
With Connected Safety Volvo vehicles can exchange information with each other. This is an important key to improved road safety. They can exchange information about the traffic situation, which will lower the risk of accidents. With Connected Safety, Volvo opens the doors to the future. Connected Safety is currently available in Sweden and Norway.

Volvo Dynamic Steering
Since the groundbreaking Volvo Dynamic Steering system (VDS) was launched in 2013, it has fundamentally changed many people’s driving behaviour. Perfect stability at high speeds, total control at low speeds, and significantly less strain on muscles and joints. With the Lane Keeping Assist the system steps in and helps the driver to steer the truck back into the lane if the truck unintentionally approaches the lane marks. Together with the Stability Assist it helps to minimize the risk of skidding. This means improved safety and reduced risk of occupational injury.

Collision Warning with Emergency Brake
In 2012 Volvo Trucks introduced Collision Warning with Emergency brake. It is an active safety feature that combines radar and camera to identify vehicles in front of the truck. If the truck gets too close to the vehicle in front, the Collision Warning with Emergency Brake steps in and alerts the driver. If necessary, the system activates the brakes to avoid a collision.

Seat belt
Using the seat belt is an easy way to keep safe if an accident happens. The seat belt was introduced in Volvo Trucks vehicles in 1979.