HGV drivers and operators need to better understand how advanced emergency braking systems (AEBS) work, according to Driving for Better Business.

The company has recently launched online guidance on the life-saving technology in collaboration with Thatcham Research.

AEBS, also referred to as autonomous and automatic braking systems, activates the brakes when a potential collision is detected, stopping or minimising the severity of a crash where the driver has failed to react.

It operates in three stages, which activate only if the driver has failed to act and a crash looks likely.

The first stage triggered is an audio-visual warning on the dashboard which occurs if the system spots that the truck could potentially collide with traffic.

The second stage sees a short, sharp application of the brakes to grab the driver’s attention if a collision remains likely and the driver has failed to respond.

The third stage sees the brakes applied using the full force of the system – braking harder than the driver would be able to do on their own, either bringing the vehicle to a halt or, if that is not possible, significantly reducing impact speed.

Simon Turner, Driving Better Business campaign manager, said: “There are two main types of AEBS. All have RADAR looking far ahead, but the more sophisticated systems also feature forward-facing cameras to provide additional input into the system to ‘see’ road markings and signs.

“There are, however, limitations which drivers and operators need to understand to ensure they maximise the safety benefits of this technology. For example, if the truck’s speed is too high, the system might not be able to bring the vehicle to full stop but the impact should still be less severe.

“The systems are only designed to avoid collisions with vehicles directly in front of the truck so a vehicle that is partially in the truck’s path – say a broken-down car at the side of the road, half on and half off the carriageway, may not be ‘seen’ by the system.

“We’ve just produced a simple, short animation to explain all these points which Transport Managers can download and share with their drivers.”

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research chief research strategy officer, said: “We are really pleased to be launching this guidance for HGV drivers.

“AEBS is a crucial safety system, and we need to raise awareness of the life-saving benefits the technology can bring, not only to HGV drivers but other road users too.

“Heavy trucks contribute to a higher collision severity leading to a disproportionate amount of casualties in crashes involving heavy vehicles.

“AEBS plays a very important role in road safety especially with the recent changes made to the highway code and the increased level of responsibility HGV drivers face in a collision.”

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “I’m grateful to Driving for Better Business for producing this informative guidance. I would urge all HGV drivers and operators to learn more about and use this innovative technology, which could potentially be life-saving on the road.”

The guidance includes a short animation, a PDF factsheet and poster for staff noticeboards, whilst the resources cover system capabilities and limitations, tips for drivers and transport managers and video of AEBS on HGVs in action. The resources are available to download at www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com/AEBS