Genova - “Certain types of transport have no alternative, it is hypocritical to think we can avoid using road vehicles.” This is the opinion expressed by Maurizio Longo, leader of TrasportoUnito, the national association of professional hauliers.
What sort of countermeasures is he suggesting? Immediate investments in all kinds of technology that can guarantee safety. Could the extremely serious accident in Borgo Panigale have had even more serious consequences?
“Yes, and in this case technology did help. This tanker, which is very modern, has been designed in such a way that even in the most critical of situations, any explosion occurs only upwards. The walls of the tank are made especially to minimise the damage. Otherwise, the disaster would have been much more serious.”
Are there in fact too many TIR carrying dangerous substances on the roads?
“In Italy, 60 tons of flammable liquid substances and eight million compressed, liquefied or dissolved gases are transported each year. But this is not the real issue, because in 90 percent of the cases, when it comes to these substances, lorries only execute short-range distribution: 100, 150 kilometres at most. Along these routes it is virtually impossible to use an alternative type of transport. One example, the simplest and the most common: we cannot use the train to bring fuels to service areas.”
Technology could help increase safety?
“There is no doubt, we must work on that, there are no alternatives, and we cannot risk scattering energy and resources towards other less important initiatives.”
What is the most urgent thing to do?
“Firstly, precautionary measures: encourage the use of EBA, the Emergency Brake Assist system. It stops the truck before colliding with an obstacle that appears in front of the vehicle even if the driver makes no effort to stop, which is what occurred in Bologna. I’ve seen the tests, a truck at 80 km per hour stops before impact.”
Then there is the risk of the driver falling asleep.
“In this case, there is a system called LGS that triggers, making a sound, as soon as the TIR changes lanes, so as to immediately alert the driver with an acoustic signal in case the manoeuvre was not voluntary. If there is no response, the truck stops.”
Can you think of an incentive plan?
“Investments must be well targeted. The European Community has recently imposed a regulation on us that calls for replacement of all rear-view mirrors on trucks, a provision that I do not think was the most urgent to deal with, but every incentive aimed at the combination of technology and safety is a must. In the road transport sector, worldwide, there is a great deal that should be studied and reviewed, but in this situation safety on the roads can only be the top priority.”