Annette Böhmer-Quietzsch counts on the Sideguard Assist feature of Mercedes-Benz trucks

Vehicle and Technology

Real assistance.

Annette is driving an Actros with Sideguard Assist for the pharmaceutical haulier Helco from Hanau. She never wants to be without this security system again. Her boss is also in favour of this – and for good reason.

The sun somehow keeps shining into the cab, dazzling now and then. Annette Böhmer-Quietzsch has to have everything in view at all times. She began her drive during the night. With her Actros 1845, she makes her way from the Osnabrück region on towards Hanau to the haulier firm’s headquarters. The A 45 was extremely busy during the early morning. Here, in the area around Hanau, things are not any better, as people are on their way to work – by car, foot and bike.

Support on board.

Annette wants to turn right. She takes her foot off the pedal and flicks the indicator upwards. A look in the mirror … did something just whizz past? A beeping sound then emerges from the A-pillar to the right and a yellow warning triangle lights up. Annette immediately puts her foot on the brake pedal, and the blue Actros comes to a standstill. Only now does a cyclist appear in the field of vision to the right and then cross the road that Annette was about to turn on to. Annette exhales and looks behind the young cyclist. “My life would never be the same if I were to fail to spot a cyclist,” she says. The warning light on the A-pillar has gone out. Annette checks her side mirrors, turns the steering wheel further to the right and turns off. “I experience these situations time and time again.”

She has been driving since 1992. “First with 7.5-tonne vehicles, then with large trucks from 1999. I turned my hobby into a career. The work has changed a lot since then though.”Annette is referring to the ever-increasing traffic, be it on the motorways or in the city centres.

Safety Package and Sideguard Assist.

“I’m happy that I have the assistance systems on board. They are a real help to me – every day,” Annette says, nodding at the little speaker box and light on the A-pillar to the right. Annette’s Actros is equipped with the Safety Package. When she is on the road, she has Active Brake Assist 4 working with her to reduce the risk of accidents involving pedestrians crossing the road. The package also includes Proximity Control Assist with the stop-and-go function, Roll Control Assist and a driver’s airbag.

The system that is repeatedly of great benefit to Annette is Sideguard Assist. This is also built into her Actros and can make her aware of pedestrians and cyclists to the right of the vehicle.

“My life would never be the same if I were to fail to spot a cyclist.”

 – Annette Böhmer-Quietzsch, driver at Helco Transport- & Pharmalogistik

Misfortune struck Annette’s boss.

Annette’s boss Dieter Schröder is the managing partner of the pharmaceutical haulier Helco based in Hanau. The concept of safety took on even greater importance for him this year. “I wanted to go out for a ride on my racing bike after work. A truck got me full on when it was turning,” he says. The accident happened ten weeks ago. When you look at the logistics expert, it is clear that he is still not completely fit. He is unable to put full weight on his left foot. During the accident, he went completely underneath the tractor unit. He suffered three broken ribs and a broken left foot, and his lungs and spleen were also affected. He was taken to hospital by helicopter and was kept there for two weeks.

“Ultimately, I was very lucky,” says Dieter Schröder, as he watches the traffic on the nearby road. “Since this happened, it’s been clear to me that all of our trucks should have the assistance systems on board.”

Helco is gradually switching its entire fleet to Actros trucks. Dieter Schröder also hopes to make other logistics companies aware of the need for assistance systems. “I also think that a system like the Sideguard Assist should be mandatory,” he says, gesturing to the system’s sensors on the right side of the truck. “You have to think of the drivers, too. Dealing with an experience like that can be very difficult.”

Never again without.

“I wouldn’t want to do the job any more without these systems in my truck,” says Annette, who has been driving her Actros for over six months now. The trailer remains on the ramp. She drives the tractor unit to a parking spot opposite to sleep for a while. Then tonight, it’s on to Munich.

Photos: Alex Kraus
Video: Martin Schneider-Lau