Are smart steering systems the smart choice?

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Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as lane-change assist have the potential to significantly increase safety in commercial vehicles. But are smart systems really the smart choice? In this age of innovation, we shouldn’t ignore the importance of marrying quality steering system components with ADAS technology.

According to the EU Commission, new vehicle technologies can help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the roads significantly – 90% of which are due to human error. In 2022, new safety technologies will become mandatory in new EU vehicles. Under the new rules all motor vehicles, including trucks, buses, vans and cars, must be equipped with the following safety features:

  • Emergency stop signals
  • Reversing detection systems
  • Intelligent speed assistance
  • Accurate tyre pressure monitoring
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning systems
  • Advanced driver distraction warning systems
  • Event data recorders

While it may seem like a no-brainer, with most OEMs and fleet managers agreeing that the safety benefits of smart driver technology, from a practical perspective, many have been cautious in adopting these technologies in the past, allowing the early adopters to trial it first.

Beyond automotive technology
With 2022 fast approaching, large vehicle OEMs must remember the needs of their specific vehicles. Most ADAS technologies started as light vehicle applications, which were then adapted to heavy goods vehicles. However, there are also a range of technologies that have been specifically designed to improve the safety of commercial fleets and drivers. These include on-board monitoring, vehicle condition monitoring, driver training, field-of-view cameras, journey management planning and route design.

The ‘smartest’ large vehicles won’t simply catch the technology stream from the automotive sector. They will use technology and parts specific to the vehicle type and application and reap the safety benefits of the specificity.

Software meet hardware
New technologies shouldn’t be assessed in isolation. After all, even the most innovative technology cannot contend with poor-quality hardware. If the integrity of critical mechanical systems is compromised, this will not lead to safer vehicles and cost savings, regardless of technology specifications.

OEMs must not ignore the importance of sourcing low-maintenance and high-quality steering system parts, from trusted suppliers. Depending on the vehicle application, non-standard features to an individual steering joint or shaft may make all the difference in making a vehicle ‘smart’.

By opting for an OEM part, the part’s material quality will already have been tested for strength, durability and hardness. Smart systems are undoubtedly the smart choice to improve commercial vehicle safety, but automotive electronics should not overshadow the benefits of quality mechanical vehicle components.

Roger Brereton is head of sales at steering system specialist, Pailton Engineering.

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