Volvo Trucks has developed a new braking system known as “Stretch Brake.” The Stretch Brake system works by triggering trailer brakes to aid in keeping the tractor/trailer combo on the correct path in slippery conditions and/or downhill grades.
“Even if the truck driver ultimately manages to control the situation, it can be extremely unpleasant both for oncoming road users and the truck driver, if a combination suddenly veers off its intended course on a downhill gradient,” says Mats Sabelström, brake specialist for the Volvo Trucks brand.
Stretch Brake only works at speeds below 40 km/ and works as a complement to the electronic stability program (ESP). While ESP works well at higher speeds, the Stretch Brake system helps prevent jackknifing and losing control by pulsing the brakes on slippery surfaces thereby controlling the trailer’s uncontrolled movement. It also works like a hill-decent controller by pulsing the brakes as the trailer heads downhill. The driver manually activates the Stretch Brake system from the cab.
“About 15 per cent of the 30,000 serious road accidents in Europe every year involve trucks, in a slightly declining trend. With effective brakes, stability systems and collision warning systems we are already helping drivers avoid risky situations in difficult conditions. Stretch Brake is yet another important part of our long-term drive to increase traffic safety and minimise the number of accidents involving trucks,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director for the Volvo Trucks brand.
“One might call Stretch Brake a kind of low-speed ESP. As the combination approaches a downhill slope, the driver manually activates the system. When the driver then releases the accelerator, the brakes on the trailer are automatically applied in a pulsated mode all the way down the hill until the gradient levels out and speed can be increased once again,” relates Mats Sabelström.
No mention of the North American market. Still, if the Stretch Brake system proves popular and mitigates hauler’s accidents – it would help increase profit… that’s something worth checking into regardless of your location.
“Drivers who have tested Stretch Brake came away very impressed with the system. As we now also introduce the system on tractor/semi-trailer combinations even more drivers will be able to negotiate difficult downhill gradients both more simply and safely,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
Speaking of trailer brake sway control, check out this awesome video!
Stretch Brake was introduced in 2012 on Volvo FH trucks pulling conventional drawbar trailers and in 2013 on Volvo FM trucks pulling drawbar trailers. In 2014 it will also become available for Volvo FH and FM semi-trailer combinations.