Friday,16 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1402, (19 - 25 July 2018)
Friday,16 November, 2018
Issue 1402, (19 - 25 July 2018)

Ahram Weekly

New generation of trucks

Egypt should consider introducing trucks with new technologies that help in road safety and saving energy, reports Mohamed Abdel-Razek

New generation trucks from Scania
New generation trucks from Scania

Egyptian roads are on the top of the list of the world’s most deadly roads. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 12,000 lives are lost every year due to road accidents. In the past couple of years in particular there were many headlines about trucks running over cars, usually in the new cities and the ring road. Such incidents were many times fatal, especially for passenger cars.

The issue of safety never ends, as the driver and his truck, officials, road police and company owners of trucks are all responsible. Road police seem to be blamed the most. It has been kind of a norm in Egypt to find debris and other stuff scattered on the roads while travelling or going to work. Either it’s a truck that was not holding tight to whatever payload it was transporting, causing damage to windshields and the outer frame of other vehicles. Maybe in other situations the truck itself was dripping oil or gas from its tanks that may have caused other vehicles to slide and lose control.

Police patrols have initiated campaigns and harsh fines trying to keep heavy trucks operating safely. They have assigned specific operating hours for trucks to hit the road, keeping them away from other smaller vehicles. This is not enough. Egypt has heavy trucks like the famous Mercedes L series from the 1960s still operating. Imagine the technology of the 1960s with all the emissions and lack of operating safety features still running on Egyptian roads, hunting for fatal accidents. Because they are cheap to buy and run, many out of date trucks have been costing the country lives and money in the past years because simply there are no clear strict laws to serve safety and efficiency. Raising taxes never helped the public benefit.

Let’s calculate it quickly. An investor who buys an old heavy truck from the 60s up until the 80s with a bargain price. He gets the truck running on the road consuming services, facilities, loads of subsidised gas, and more, while giving back to the community bad emissions, fatal accidents -- you name it. Raising taxes on such vehicles will never compensate for the amount of harm they cause to the country and the community.

New generation trucks are expensive compared to older ones in the market, but they will give back every penny to the owner and to the country. Scania, the Swedish truck manufacturer since 1911, lately introduced in Egypt its recent technology packed in a new fleet of trucks, featuring the S410 and the P460 XT. Apart from changing the concept of trucks in Egypt, which is basically framing heavy trucks in the category of gigantic, scary, smelly and awful to be around, the new trucks are actually meant to be safe and efficient on the roads.

Al-Ahram Weekly had the opportunity to get an in-depth tour and experience the new trucks in an unveiling ceremony in Al-Horiya Garden, in the heart of Cairo. The trucks looked pristine in person, and by sitting in the cockpit, you feel like you want to take it for all your long road trips. Starting with the comfort features which help the driver and crew to stay alert while driving on the road, you have air conditioning, fridge, two beds, heated and cooled seats with air suspension, entertainment system, electronic windows all surrounded by airbags, and all the gauges and information screens delivered in the latest screens on the market.

Moving to the features that aid the operation of the heavy truck on the road, the trucks are so powerful that cars will stop worrying about the truck stalling or sliding back on hills, crushing them. The heavy trucks have ABS, ESC (traction control), so the heavy truck won’t go out of control so easily anymore. The trucks also help the driver with several other options to slow down or completely stop, like the exhaust brake, the retarder and the advanced emergency braking. Advanced emergency braking is a system mainly designed to save other smaller vehicles on the road from any human error caused by heavy trucks drivers. The system, which is mandatory in all trucks on the roads of the EU, automatically stops the truck using all its stopping systems and powers, without the need for the driver intervening, keeping the truck always at a safe distance from other vehicles or objects. It can even stop to a standstill if the truck is faced with a stationery object. The system uses its sensors attached on the top of the windshield to detect objects, so if the driver falls asleep or loses concentration, the probability of a fatal accident is dramatically reduced.

Talking about power and efficiency, such new trucks are the final results of years of development in the EU. So, efficiency is well taken into account to match mandatory road laws and regulations. It starts from an engine that consumes less fuel and emits lower emissions without compromising power. Many other technologies go into the formula, like aerodynamics and design that help visibility and easy maintenance.

Downpowered heavy trucks can always be monitored on Egyptian roads, carrying heavy payloads that don’t match their stopping powers or even towing powers, struggling uphill and praying not to be obstructed going down a hill.

Applying new rules for heavy trucks and making sure they are executed on the ground is a must for safety as well as the economy. They will surely pay off.

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