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Hino hauling for mandatory truck ESC

Safe choice: Hino's 300 Series is Australia's only light truck with ESC as standard across the range.

Hino pushes to make stability control standard on trucks as well as cars

29 May 2014

ONE of Australia’s most popular commercial vehicle brands Hino says that fatalities involving light trucks could be slashed by a third if the government made ESC stability control mandatory on all new commercial vehicles.

The Japanese truck-builder is the first in Australia to introduce the potentially life-saving technology across its light truck range as standard, and wants to see rivals follow suit at the expense of its present unique status.

Since November 2013, all new passenger cars sold in Australia have been legally required to have the safety-enhancing active stability systems fitted, but commercial vehicles have been spared any similar regulation.

Research in the US by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that up to 33 per cent of deaths involving light trucks would be avoidable if mandatory ESC was implemented, and Hino is confident similar cuts in the road toll could be seen here.

Speaking at the launch of its new high-powered 300 Series model, brand and franchise development manager Bill Gillespie told GoAuto that, until manufacturers are obliged to fit ESC to trucks, they could continue to put cost before safety.

“It is all about product philosophy. I think that they could do it but they don’ t because of cost or they don’t think it’s necessary, and they are not being pushed by the government,” he said.

“If it’s good enough for cars why shouldn’t trucks have it? There’s really no reason apart from people not wanting to spend the money.

“It’s amazing once it becomes mandatory and regulated – people find the resources. My experience is that they could do it but they just need the will.

“The NHTSA in the States are saying 33 per cent of fatalities could be prevented by VSC (Hino’s term for ESC) being made mandatory.

“In Australia that could be another third. It’s a lot of lives and also the people and families that are effected.

“It’s also a big knock-on effect to the economy so we just can’t understand why it’s not required.” Introducing the 300 Series range with ESC as an option would have cut the cost of a new vehicle, but Hino decided to offer the more expensive systems as standard, making its vehicles more attractive to safety conscious customers.

“Right now we have a competitive advantage. When everyone does have VSC we lose that advantage, but it’s better for the industry,” Mr Gillespie said.

The safety benefits of ESC in largely constant-mass passenger vehicles are indisputable, but in load-carrying commercial vehicles, the stability software may be even more beneficial.

A truck’s handling, road-holding, braking performance and centre of gravity changes dramatically under different load conditions, and an accident caused by driver error could be easily avoided with ESC systems that monitor the changing load conditions.

“With the reduction of the amount of skilled truck drivers you have a lot of unskilled people taking on the truck driving roles. VSC means that those drivers can drive our trucks with confidence and safety,” said Mr Gillespie.

“The load that’s being carried can move around and a shifting load is a problem. You’ve also got differing road conditions and surfaces from state to state.

“We would like to think that the drivers of our trucks go out to work and come home safely, but equally they are looking after other road users too.” Hino product planning manager Daniel Petrovski says that some manufacturers claim the stability systems won’t work for their applications due to occasional wheelbase alterations rendering the system defunct, but Hino’s VSC system is adjustable, which means its effectiveness is unchanged even after major chassis modification.

Another concern often cited by the ESC opposition is that the system intervenes too soon, another concern Mr Petrovski claims is unfounded.

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