With a wealth of updates and improvements, Iveco’s ‘Generation X’ – the new Stralis X-Way – represents a comprehensive upgrade over its predecessor in terms of driver safety, comfort and convenience. Diesel News’ Paul Matthei looks at how these systems can improve driver behaviour while driving an example from Melbourne to Sydney hitched to a semi-trailer and grossing 40.5 tonnes.
A couple of well-known facts are that the Australian trucking industry is massively short-staffed and that the average age of drivers has been creeping up for some time and continues to do so. According to statistics documented in early 2018, 47 was the average age at that time which indicates the vast majority of Australian truckies are in the Generation X demographic.
Whether or not Iveco considered this when naming its latest Stralis is a moot point, but as a Generation Xer who started driving semis more than 25 years ago, I must concede that the old bangers I loved to drive back then now appear somewhat antiquated compared with the technically sophisticated and well-appointed machinery now on offer.
And that is a good and necessary thing considering the aforementioned ageing workforce which now needs to be pampered a little more to ensure participants can keep going the distance for longer terms in the honourable cause of keeping Australia moving.
Perhaps it’s for this very reason that things are really ramping up in the new heavy-duty truck arena of late. The levels of safety equipment, interior appointments, quietness, comfort and convenience are being boosted at a staggering rate, particularly by the European manufacturers.
In essence, each manufacturer is trying to up the ante and attract the attention of truck owners and transport companies who, in turn, generally strive to provide the best working conditions for their valued drivers.
All these enhancements definitely serve to elevate the truck driver’s workplace environment and given the typically long hours truckies spend on the road every working day, any ameliorations that reduce fatigue and stress in addition to providing active and passive safety measures should be applauded in my book.
Iveco is clearly no exception in this respect and my steer of a Stralis X-Way between Melbourne and Sydney certainly opened my eyes to the extra strides the company has made in equipping this well-appointed and highly capable workhorse.
I say ‘opened my eyes’ in a metaphorical as well as literal sense, given my first ‘save’ of the day, thanks to a brilliant safety feature of the X-Way, came just a kilometre or two after I left Iveco’s Dandenong premises.
I was travelling at a steady 60km/h following an old medium-rigid pantech truck which obscured my view of the road ahead. Passing through an intersection I was momentarily distracted and didn’t immediately notice the truck’s considerably less-than-brilliant brake lights come on.
A split-second before my brain twigged that the vehicle was slowing to a stop due to traffic congestion, the X-Way’s advanced emergency braking (AEBS) alarm chimed in, prompting me to bury the brake pedal which brought me safely to a stop. Whew!
While that was a prime and hard-hitting (perhaps that’s not the best choice of words!) example of the latest technology helping the driver, there were many other subtle attributes of the truck, each working in harmony with the others, that made this line-haul journey a very pleasant experience.