THE digital tides have turned and the inevitability of more technology on the road seems to be clear.
In the latest chapter of automation, moves are being made by both industry bodies and federal politicians to mandate automatic emergency braking systems in both personal and commercial vehicles.
South Australian Federal Senator Alex Gallacher has led the push, calling for the mandate during a speech in parliament early last month.
"I have asked the department to do one thing and that is to mandate autonomous-braking technology,” the senator told parliament.
"It would stop lunatics driving into people.
"That is what it does - it actually stops you from driving into people.
"It would save an enormous number of injuries, particularly in the pedestrian area, and it is a cheap technology and it is readily available.
"It is actually taken out of vehicles that are imported into Australia and that is a disgrace.
"We need to make a big impact in this space, not only in heavy vehicles but right across the board.”
In a statement to Big Rigs about the move, Senator Gallacher said the mandate should include all regular and heavy vehicles with imported parts that are assembled in Australia.
"If the regulators in the European Union mandate AEB on safety grounds and given that we do not manufacture trucks, it seems like common sense to mandate on all imported trucks,” Senator Gallacher said.
The Australian Trucking Association also supports mandating AEBS in new trucks but believes appropriate exemptions should be made for vehicles operating in harsh conditions.
"It is estimated that the use of autonomous emergency braking could reduce fatal heavy vehicle crashes by as much as 25%,” an ATA representative said.
"This could save the lives of 67 Australians every year if this technology was fitted across the whole fleet.”
However, the ATA doesn't want to put the cart before the horse and is calling for the mandated use of stability control to be implemented first.
It's a move the association says has the potential to reduce heavy vehicle crashes by 4%.
"As the first step toward mandating this technology, however, the Australian Government needs to mandate stability control for new trucks and trailers,” the ATA representative said.
"Stability control is a vehicle safety system that monitors the stability and sideways acceleration of a heavy vehicle and kicks in to slow the vehicle down if it detects that it is at risk of a rollover.”
The ATA and Australian Livestock Road Transport Association have been working together to develop the industry's position on the detailed technical specifications of the mandate.
This will ensure the mandate has the necessary exemptions and rules for Australia's harsh conditions and unique multi- combination vehicles.
Australasian College of Road Safety president Lauchlan MacIntosh AM also supports the move across all vehicles.
"We know in light vehicles AEBS is very successful, particularly in reducing end-to-end crashes,” Mr MacIntosh said.
"We would certainly want to include it for trucks and buses.
"Manufactures in light vehicles are progressing, and in heavy vehicles Volvo have had it in their trucks for quite some time.
"It is really important we encourage manufacturers to include this technology and mandate if necessary.
"But we want to work as collaboratively as we can with the industry.”
The Australian Government is expected to release a regulatory impact statement for the AEBS mandate in coming months.
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