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Korea pushes for safety features in commercial vehicles

PUBLISHED : July 13, 2017 - 17:58

UPDATED : July 13, 2017 - 17:58

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[THE INVESTOR] The Korean government is moving to make autonomous safety features mandatory in commercial vehicles, following a series of fatal accidents involving large buses.

President Moon Jae-in proposed mandating the installment of the Forward Collision Warning System in buses and large trucks during a Cabinet meeting earlier this week.

Moon’s comments came after a recent bus accident allegedly caused by the driver dozing off led to two deaths and 16 injured.

To tackle the issue of accidents cause by commercial vehicles, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea had suggested mandating large trucks and buses have the Autonomous Emergency Braking System and Lane Departure Warning System by August last year.

“Accidents involving large size buses and trucks are more deadly than passenger cars. Safety systems must be installed in commercial vehicles even though it comes with a high price tag,” said Kim Pil-soo, a professor of automotive engineering at Daelim University.

Equipping a vehicle with the safety features costs about 4 million won (US$3,500) each.

The fatality rate of trucks stood at 7.1 percent, over two times higher than passenger cars’ 3.4 percent, between 2013 and 2015, according to a report released by the Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute last May.

The report added that 1 in 5 truck drivers suffered sleep disorders, which increases the possibility of drowsy driving by 2.4 times compared to those without sleep disorders.

Hyundai Motor's Unicity bus, which is 10.95 meters long, was responsible for a seven-car pileup last week that led to 18 casualties on a section of Gyeongbu Expressway near Seocho in central Seoul.

The government currently requires vehicles longer than 11 meters to be equipped with the Autonomous Emergency Braking System and Lane Departure Warning System.

“The 11-meter limit was set in consideration of the financial burden appealed by bus companies that manage midsize buses,” the ministry said.

Hyundai Motor’s Green City bus, New Super Aero City bus and the bs106 made by Zyle Daewoo Bus are categorized as midsize buses, shorter than 11 meters.

MAN Truck & Bus Korea has installed the Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning systems in 52 of its two-story buses that will be supplied as public buses of Gyeonggi Province starting later this month, the company said.

Daimler Truck Korea has equipped the New Actros truck with the Active Brake Assist system that warns drivers when a radar registers a detection 250 meters ahead, the company said. It will install the systems in other trucks as well. 

By Kim Bo-gyung/The Korea Herald (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)

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