For trucks with trailers, slippery winter roads and downhill grades represent a tough challenge for even the most skilled of drivers. There is always the risk of the rig becoming unstable and, in the worst-case scenario, starting to jack-knife.
Volvo Trucks has developed a solution that it says significantly improves safety by minimizing the risk of this type of situation and potential accidents.
Known as Stretch Brake, it automatically retards the trailer and straightens up the rig on slippery downhill stretches.
The Stretch Brake is a complement to European Volvo cabover trucks equipped with the company’s electronic stability program (ESP). While ESP is most effective at higher speeds, Stretch Brake is only operational at speeds below 40 km/h 25 mph.
Both systems contribute to better stability and easier steering.
"One might call Stretch Brake a kind of low-speed ESP,” says Mats Sabelström, brake specialist for Volvo Trucks. “As the rig approaches a downhill slope, the driver manually activates the system. When the driver 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 once again be increased."
Like all technology initially developed for Volvo’s cabover products, the manufacturer is evaluating whether it makes sense for the North American market.
To view a Youtube video about the Stretch Brake, go to:www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNwJ7Acs_3Y.