Commercial Vehicles

    Assistance systems in commercial vehicles

    Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Assistance systems are also getting better and better – which should make traffic and truck handling safer and more harmonious.

    Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Assistance systems are also getting better and better – which should make traffic and truck handling safer and more harmonious.

    Driver Assistance Systems Can Save Lives

    The number of accident victims is falling each year. This is largely due to ever-improving driver assistance systems.

    Modern safety systems offer all road users a high level of safety and help prevent up to 50% of serious accidents. They also ensure that drivers arrive at their destinations in a more relaxed manner.

    For example, in a field test involving more than 1,000 vehicles, the BGL, together with the Berufsgenossenschaft für Transport und Verkehrswirtschaft and KRAVAG insurance, demonstrated that trucks equipped with driver assistance systems are 34% less likely to have an accident than similar reference vehicles.

    Since 1970, the risk of a fatal accident has been reduced by 86%. On average, trucks travel around three million kilometers without an accident involving another person.

    Safety On The Rise

    The use of assistance systems not only makes driving safer, it also brings economic benefits for freight carriers and logistics companies.

    Driver assistance systems can make a significant contribution to avoiding traffic accidents. If an accident can be avoided, this means greater safety and cost benefits. The vehicle does not need to be taken for repairs, or these take less time, and it is available again for transport tasks more quickly. The number of assistance systems that can support drivers in their driving has therefore continued to increase in recent years.

    Distance cruise control, for example, automatically regulates the speed of the truck and the distance to the vehicles ahead. The system maintains a constant speed set by the driver or adjusts it to changing traffic conditions by automatically easing off the accelerator, braking or accelerating. In traffic jams or slow-moving traffic, distance control systems slow the vehicle down to a standstill.

    Emergency Brake Assistant

    Nevertheless, serious truck accidents at the ends of traffic jams are repeatedly reported in the media. These rear-end collisions are often very severe accidents. For this reason, legislators addressed the issue some time ago and made it mandatory for trucks to be equipped with automatic emergency braking assistants.

    The emergency brake assistant is required by law. Emergency braking is the last step in a chain of actions to prevent a rear-end collision or at least minimize its consequences. The emergency braking assistant (AEBS - Advanced Emergency Breaking System) actively supports the driver in carrying out this maneuver should their attention lapse. Using sensors that detect the road ahead (high-frequency radar), the system measures the distance and differential speed to a vehicle in front. It is able to detect acute danger of a rear-end collision and warns the driver if necessary. In this first step, this is communicated to the driver by means of an acoustic warning tone and a message on the central display. If necessary, the emergency brake assistant can also automatically trigger emergency braking with the aim of avoiding a possible collision. Even if a rear-end collision does occur, this can at least reduce the force of the impact and thus reduce the risk of injury to all involved.

    In any case, the emergency brake assistant helps to avoid collisions or to mitigate them and significantly reduce the risk of injury.

    Turning Assistant

    With the turning assistant, radar sensors monitor the right side of the vehicle and detect stationary and moving objects. Once an object is detected in the danger zone, a two-stage warning is issued. The system not only works when turning at intersections, but also supports the driver when changing lanes.

    Lane Departure Warning System

    The lane departure warning system (LDWS) warns the driver if the vehicle leaves the lane unintentionally. A camera mounted on the inside of the windshield detects the lane marking. The warning is given haptically by vibrating the steering wheel or driver seat and acoustically via the loudspeakers. This system is required by law for buses and trucks.

    Fatigue and distraction are the most common reasons for unintentional lane departure. This assistant remains alert even during long journeys on highways or country roads, helping to prevent accidents.

    Intelligent Light Assistant

    The light assistant uses a camera to detect oncoming and preceding vehicles and adjusts the headlights so that their drivers are not dazzled. This results in an automatic transition between high and low beam. Leading to around 18% fewer traffic fatalities thanks to greater visibility on highways and country roads.

    The well-established bend and cornering light provides optimum illumination by swiveling the dipped beam depending on the radius of the bend. This makes driving at night not only safer but also more comfortable.

    With the help of cruise control, distance control and lane departure warning systems, drivers are relieved of routine tasks. Furthermore, every driver makes some mistakes! The relaxed driving behavior ultimately harmonizes overall road traffic, significantly raising the safety level.

    Driver Assistance Systems Support Ecological And Efficient Driving

    There are driver assistance systems that make it possible to master any downhill or uphill slope intelligently and easily.

    The starting aid is an extension of the braking system which, when starting on a slope, maintains the brake pressure until the driver presses the accelerator pedal to prevent the vehicle from rolling.

    Topography-based adaptive cruise control (GPS and Cloud) is an assistance system that uses stored map material and GPS data to adapt the driving style to the conditions in a way that optimizes fuel consumption. With a central cloud, data is transferred to a database and made available to various users.

    Docking At The Loading Bay Made Simple

    The interface between ramp and vehicle is a sensitive point in handling goods. Here, trucks must be guided correctly, docked safely, and loaded and unloaded quickly to ensure effective overall logistics.

    With the rear area monitoring assistance system, the area behind the truck is automatically monitored when reversing. When a static or moving object is detected within a remaining distance of 20 to 200 cm, the system warns of a possible collision.

    The maneuvering assistant is still under development. It enables the complete truck tractor (semitrailer or long truck) to be steered and maneuvred from the outside via a tablet. The direction of travel and positioning are determined on the tablet and the system then executes the steering movements so that the truck moves exactly in the desired direction.

    Smooth Freight Transportation

    The Local Vehicle Network (LVN) is also still under development. The aim is to provide central access to all data relating to the vehicle combination (tractor and trailer/semitrailer). It is an extension of existing truck-trailer communication standards, transmitting trailer data (such as cooling temperature, door status, load securing, etc.) to the towing vehicle via WLAN. The central accessability of the data supports further automation.

    DispoPilot is a logistics application for support in dispatching. This application can be installed on any Android-based smartphone, tablet or the company's own Fleetboard tablet. Together with navigation software, DispoPilot enables efficient and networked order management. The system is constantly connected to the logistics center.

    The Future Of Trucks

    The multitude of assistance systems has created the impression that autonomous trucks could soon be technically feasible. However, it is much more likely that this development will be evolutionary. Automated functions will increasingly be built into vehicles, such that drivers will be introduced to automation step by step. There are also initial approaches with regard to practical testing.


    The self-driving truck is one of the developments of the future. Here, GPS is used to determine the position and several laser scanners on the vehicle take care of the surrounding area. The data commands are issued from a central location.

    New technologies mean new opportunities. The associated technical changes with autonomous driving are not a threat to truck drivers. Truck drivers will also develop in line with these new technologies. This will all happen step by step; evolving from light to difficult tasks. 

    In the future, drivers could act as "transport managers," with an attractive rolling workplace that offers opportunities for new professional content. As a consequence, traffic should be safer for all participants, but at the same time transport efficiency would be increased and CO2 emissions further reduced.

    Safety Systems For Commercial Vehicles

    Safety technologies have made a significant contribution to making commercial vehicles increasingly safe. The innovations are primarily aimed at preventing those accidents that occur particularly frequently with heavy commercial vehicles. These include rear-end collisions as well as lane departure accidents and accidents caused by leaving the road. Since November 2015, all new trucks in the EU - with a few exceptions - must be equipped with emergency brake assist and lane departure warning systems, while ESP has been mandatory since 2014.

    Legally Required Assistance Systems

    Among others, these assistance systems are mandatory by law in trucks:

    • Electronic stabilization program (ESP)
    • Lane departure warning system (LDWS)
    • Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS).
    Contact person

    Dr.-Ing. Sascha Pfeifer

    Head of the Transport Policy Division

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