Unique Swedish work with new truck front to save more motorists' lives

Trafikverket (The Swedish Transport Administration) has crash-tested a new more energy-absorbing truck front developed by Chalmers University of Technology. And the test shows measurable results.

If a car collides with a truck, there are very serious consequences. The force of a head-on collision between a car and a truck at 80 km/h is comparable to if a car crashes into a wall at 150 to 160 km/h.

We are the first in the world to test damping front for trucks

Trafikverket has crash-tested an energy-absorbing truck front developed by Chalmers University of Technology. The test shows measurable results; the prototype makes a difference. The dampening front reduces the intrusion of the oncoming passenger car's passenger compartment by 30 to 60 percent.

– The unique Swedish crash test with the new truck front shows a clear difference, 30-60 percent less deformation of the occupant compartment of the oncoming car, compared to a collision with a truck without the new front, says Rikard Fredriksson, senior expert in road safety at Trafikverket.

In order for a car driver to survive a head-on collision with a truck, the passenger car's passenger compartment needs to be kept intact. It is not possible to guarantee today, even for the best equipped modern cars.

Trucks involved in 1 of 5 fatal accidents on the roads

Despite the fact that trucks only account for 6 percent of the mileage, trucks are involved in 20 percent of road traffic fatalities. Approximately 45 people a year die in traffic accidents involving heavy trucks in Sweden, and in over 90 percent of these, it is the opponent who dies, usually in a passenger car.

Although it is usually not the heavy traffic that causes the collisions with oncoming collisions − two out of three times it is the passenger car that crosses over on the wrong side − the consequences are very serious.

Trafikverket and the industry want to develop an energy-absorbing truck front for increased road safety

The crash test shows a clear difference compared to a collision with a truck with a conventional front.

– The goal is to develop a standard for crash tests of trucks that can be introduced in Euro NCAP's consumer tests. We want the people in a car to be able to survive a head-on collision with a truck by keeping the passenger compartment intact, says Rikard Fredriksson.

Trafikverket, Chalmers University of Technology and the automotive industry continue to work together and a research project led by Chalmers is planned to further develop the tests and the truck front. Trafikverket is also working to incorporate these tests for trucks into European consumer tests within Euro NCAP from 2030.

This is how the crash test was done

The starting point is a modern car and heavy truck, and both vehicles drive at a posted speed limit of 80 km/h. With modern safety equipment – auto brake – we estimate that the speed can be reduced automatically by 30 km/h. In the collision, the speed of the vehicles is therefore 50 km/h.

The safety systems in a passenger car are built to work in an intact cabin – seat belt, airbag etc. If the passenger compartment collapses, not only does the risk of the interior compressing the occupants increase, the car's protection system does not work as designed, and the risk of injury or death for the occupants increases dramatically. Therefore, the goal is to develop a test standard for a softer truck front that is so benign that in the event of a frontal collision (given the conditions described above), a modern passenger car compartment should not collapse. At the same time, we in Sweden will work actively within Euro NCAP to make this test standard part of the tests of all heavy trucks from 2030.

Trafikverket and Euro NCAP plan to test the safety of trucks

Trafikverket is a member and one of the founders of Euro NCAP, a consumer testing organisation that for 25 years has successfully crash-tested and provided information about the safety level in passenger cars.

Today, the vast majority of passenger cars have a safety level far above what regulations require. Now the goal is to repeat this success story but now for trucks. From 2024, Euro NCAP will start testing the safety of trucks. Initially, it involves testing auto braking, lane keeping and other driver assistance systems. Later, they will also do crash tests (in 2030). Trafikverket is a driving force within Euro NCAP to crash test trucks – which we believe can strongly contribute to reducing the number of fatalities on our roads.