Excellent: Volvo has created a revolutionary system that minimises the risk of a truck and its trailer jack-knifing. So, let us consider a scenario. A heavy load is travelling down a hill that is covered by patches of ice. The haulier sees a parked car so brakes to ensure he/she passes at a sensible speed. Under normal circumstances the truck/trailer slow at the same rate - but this time the truck slows faster than its bedfellow. Why? Because the latter has hit ice and is struggling to find the required traction to lose momentum. It is therefore moving faster than the truck so forces itself alongside. This is more likely to occur on a bend than on a straight stretch of road. As the truck/trailer are connected they then fold against each other like a half closed penknife. Clearly, this is one of the most challenging problems a haulier can face. Also, even if he/she has the skill to recover the situation there might not be enough room as the roads are littered with hazards such as cars, pedestrians, bikes, etc. Volvo's new system – rather than making it easier to control a jack-knifing vehicle – operates by preventing the phenomenon in the first place. But how?
Volvo Stretch Brake System
The Volvo Stretch Brake System is activated by the hauler as he/she approaches a steep decent. Operation typically comes via a lever behind the steering wheel that resembles an indicator stalk. Its function is available while travelling at forty kilometres or less. Once activated – and the haulier releases the throttle – the system automatically pulses the trailer's brakes, i.e. on for a moment, off for a moment, then back on. This prevents it picking-up more speed than the towing vehicle and trying to force its way alongside and into a jack-knife. The system can be deactivated once the gradient of the road is comparatively flat. According to the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team that specialises in road safety, about sixty accidents that involved trucks in Sweden in 2012 could have been prevented with the Stretch Brake System. As such, if every heavy goods vehicle on the planet – and perhaps every vehicle towing a caravan or trailer - had such a system it could save countless lives. Furthermore, motorists might arrive at their destinations less stressed as one of today's motoring nightmares would be a thing of the past. Excellent.