Every year people die and loads are lost on Europe’s roads. The cause is often a poorly secured load. A lot is due to the ignorance of drivers so Volvo Trucks is rolling out a comprehensive driver training programme throughout Europe.
The incline gradually approaches 60 degrees. On the cargo bed is a two tonne heat exchanger, lashed down with tensioning straps and restrained with a wooden beam secured by four nails. It does not move an inch. We are at the Volvo Truck Corporation’s facility in Göteborg where load safety training is in progress.
The people around the truck are doing a load securing course to qualify as instructors in the Volvo Trucks Driver Development programme. One of the exercises is to see if the weight of the load has any effect on how easily it starts to slide. The exercise with the inclined cargo bed shows that it is not the weight but the friction that determines when the load starts to slide.
On site is An Paepen, the person responsible for the Volvo Trucks Driver Development programme:
"Carelessness with load securing can lead to personal injuries and fatalities," she says.
Many killed but no laws
Euro Contrôle Route, ECR, a European organisation for the inspection of road transport, notes that 25 percent of all commercial vehicle accidents in Europe are caused by poorly secured loads. And that more than 10,000 loads are lost for the same reason. The Swedish Work Environment Authority says that one or two people a year are killed in Sweden alone.
Even so many European countries have no load securing legislation, while others have very stringent requirements. In Sweden the driver can be fined if his load is inadequately secured. Drivers must know the rules that apply in each country.
Load securing is one of the courses in the Volvo Trucks Driver Development programme. Other courses include efficient driving, health and first aid, safe driving and the haulage sector and its legislation.
"We started rolling out this package of courses as early as 2009 and will be finished in 2014. In the past two years we have trained over 15,000 drivers in 25 European countries and the number continues to increase," says An Paepen.
Kevin de Ridder, a driver trainer with Volvo Trucks in Belgium, says that the level of driver expertise is quite high.
"But unfortunately there is some carelessness with things such as load securing, more because of stress perhaps than anything else."
In the Czech Republic the drivers are not as proficient.
"Generally speaking the proficiency level is low. We have a major lack of drivers and many are young with little experience," says Vladimir Myslik at Volvo Trucks in the Czech Republic.