Lars-Ola Bligård

New bus steering benefits the driver

​The new Volvo Dynamic Steering system was installed on Gothenburg’s electric buses two years ago. A study from Chalmers now shows that the new system reduces fatigue and pain in drivers.

Heavy steering is a recurring problem among heavy vehicles and buses, and can cause the drivers discomfort and pain in shoulders and arms. In the summer of 2017, Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS) was installed in the electric buses on route 55 in Gothenburg. The result of a long-term study done in conjunction with this now clearly shows that work-related physical problems can be reduced with the help of the new system, which is a further developed, advanced power assisted steering.

The study was done by Chalmers researchers and conducted over 1.5 years. It shows that the drivers who reported moderate to very severe problems prior to the study, either experienced a reduction to weak or no pain, or did not experience any increase in symptoms when driving with VDS.
“It is clear that VDS has had a positive impact on the bus drivers' work environment,” says researcher Lars-Ola Bligård at the Department of Industrial and Materials Science, and continues:
“We investigated how bus drivers’ perceived physical problems were affected over time. We conducted a survey study over 1.5 years and supplemented the surveys with interviews. On average, 14 drivers participated in each of the four survey rounds, and six of the drivers could be followed across all four surveys. In their answers, the drivers estimated how much symptoms they experienced in different body parts.”

 
Volvo Dynamic Steering removes vibrations and thrusts that otherwise propagate through the steering wheel. At the same time, maneuvering in confined spaces is facilitated, as steering wheel resistance is reduced by up to 70 percent at low speeds. The steering wheel also automatically returns to its original position when the grip is relieved.

 
In general, the drivers are very positive about VDS.
“To drive a bus in a safe way, on time and in a difficult traffic situation, the bus driver profession makes for a sometimes stressful work environment. Solutions such as Volvo Dynamic Steering are a welcome and important development for our drivers to get a better working environment,” says Karl Orton, IT and fleet director at Keolis, the operator of route 55.
The results of the study now open for further research, and Lars-Ola Bligård says:
“It would be good to further clarify the validity of the relationship between VDS and reduced symptoms, as there were quite few participants in this study. It would also be interesting to study whether drivers who drive a lot with VDS develop fewer and less serious physical problems than drivers who do not drive with this new steering system.”

 
Text: Mia Malmstedt / Olof Nordangård
Photo: Tina Koohnavard

 

Published: Wed 28 Aug 2019. Modified: Fri 30 Aug 2019