Safety becomes key for commercial vehicles in UAE

Long operated with a ‘cheapest is best’ approach to new acquisitions, the commercial vehicles sector in the UAE is undergoing a major shift, driven by new regulations on safety.
Vladimir Knezevic, managing director of FAMCO UAE and Jan Erik Thoren, MD, Volvo Trucks MiddleEast.
Vladimir Knezevic, managing director of FAMCO UAE and Jan Erik Thoren, MD, Volvo Trucks MiddleEast.


As part of the UAE’s Vision 2020 objectives, Dubai Police have identified a marked reduction in road accident fatalities as a goal by the end of the decade. In fact, they want to achieve zero fatalities per 100,000 people by that date.

When asked at a recent media gathering whether such a goal was achievable, the RTA’s Traffic Department Director Hussain Mohammed Al Banna said: “Vision is vision. This is a strategic vision, it is very challenging but everyone should work towards this. If a country has safe roads and low death-tolls, it helps improve other sectors such as tourism and business, which in turn boosts the country’s economy.”

According to a 2017 survey by MoveSouq, trucks were responsible for 11% of accidents in Dubai, while more than 55% of all accidents overall occur during night time. This correlates with the leading cause of accidents, which were drowsiness or drink driving and the sudden changing of lanes without indicating, which both tied at 20%.

"More than 90 per cent of accidents are due to human errors. And accidents do not discriminate - they're not based on nationality, educational background and driving experience," says Mohammad Akber, Tristar Group general manager for HSE, Quality and Sustainability. “It is the moral obligation of companies to properly educate their drivers on road safety.”

While Tristar, a major petrochem transport company, is leading the charge in educating its drivers about safety. Volvo and Mercedes are leading the charge in introducing new ‘safety edition’ models of their most popular trucks. The new Actros from Mercedes and the Globe Trotter from Volvo are two of the safest types of trucks in the region.

Both come with lane assist features that alert the driver to any drifting, both feature emergency stop capabilities if the vehicle in front suddenly stops, and both are able to match the truck’s speed to that of the car in front of them. The Globe Trotter comes with the added safety of the world’s first safety bag for trucks, a front under-run protection system to prevent cars being crushed in a head-on collision and a sturdier drivers’ cab.

All of these features, however, increase the cost of the trucks, potentially pricing the Globe Trotter and the ‘safety edition’ Actros out of the market of cheaper rivals. However, according to Vladimir Knezevic, managing director of FAMCO UAE, which distributes Volvo Trucks in the UAE, this isn’t a concern, because the regulations are their side.

Asked why now was the right time to introduce such a product in the UAE market, Knezevic told Logistics Middle East it is because of the UAE’s growing focus on safety in the commercial vehicles sector.

“We have constant government support in the UAE in terms of combining vision and technology to bring safety regulations up, along with all other regulations regarding society, environment, and so on,” he said. “Demand for this truck will be followed by regulation, as new rules and laws are brought in aimed at helping the UAE achieve its goal of zero accidents on the roads.”

“We are extremely pleased to launch Volvo Trucks safety features in the UAE. The Safety Edition Volvo FH truck with safety features was built with one thing in mind: The driver. The truck contains numerous world’s first innovations which will assist in safe driving, fast loading and fatigue reduction, thus increases productivity,” he added.

Daimler, the distributor of Mercedes Trucks, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy truck in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) last year, with the launch of a special edition unit with far more than just a change of livery.

The 20 years Actros (a 3844 S 6x4 truck) also brings the German truck maker’s proprietary driver assistance technologies to the region for the very first time, including Active Brake Assist, Telligent Lane Assistant, Telligent Proximity Control, anti-lock braking and acceleration skid control.

All of these technologies are aimed at lowering the burden on the driver and increasing road safety, and their introduction represents a massive leap forward in terms of the sophistication of the safety systems being offered in the region.

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