Theatre and event transport specialist, Stagefreight, had already ordered 10 Actros tractor units when directors Ian Uttley and Chris Adgie attended Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ latest RoadEfficiency LIVE showcase.

After experiencing the remarkable Active Brake Assist 4 autonomous technology in action at the Millbrook Proving Ground, in Bedfordshire, they went straight back to Northside Truck and Van, the manufacturer’s reigning Dealer of the Year, to upgrade the specification of Stagefreight’s new vehicles.

Leeds-based Stagefreight added optional Safety Packs which, as well as Active Brake Assist 4, include the Proximity Control Assist system and a driver’s airbag. This bundle of options offers customers a valuable saving over the price they would pay if purchasing each item separately.

Stagefreight’s 4×2 Actros 1845s have range-topping GigaSpace cabs and fuel-efficient straight-six engines which transmit their 330 kW (450 hp) outputs via Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated gearboxes. Eight have now entered service, with the remaining two due for delivery in March.

Active Brake Assist 4 alerts the driver when it detects a potential accident hazard and, if preventative measures are not taken, reduces the vehicle speed’s. RoadEfficiency LIVE guests took to Millbrook’s high-speed bowl for the demonstration. As the truck in which they were travelling bore down on a stationary van, the staged braking intervention came in two waves, with significant pressure applied initially, and full pressure in the closing stages.

Not only can this ground-breaking technology prevent a potential crash, or dramatically reduce the effects of a collision with another vehicle, but it can also detect stationary objects and – a world first – even spot pedestrians stepping off kerbs into the path of the truck.

Proximity Control Assist, meanwhile, works in conjunction with the cruise control, intervening automatically to restrict the truck’s speed and maintain a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front.

Uttley said: “After seeing and feeling Active Brake Assist 4 in operation at RoadEfficiency LIVE we very quickly told Northside that we wanted this amazing safety technology on our own trucks.

“The demonstration, which showed how the system could prevent the truck from rear-ending a stationary car in front, was hugely impressive. Chris and I agreed that if one of our vehicles was ever involved in a similar scenario, we’d want to be sure we’d done everything we could to prevent a tragedy.”

The proven economy and reliability of the Actros were also key factors behind Stagefreight’s decision to return to Northside with its latest order. “We were already operating six Actros units, alongside trucks by other manufacturers,” continued Uttley. “They’ve consistently been better on fuel – up to two miles per gallon ahead of its competitors. They are also extremely reliable and our drivers absolutely love them, while the service we receive from Northside is always first class.”

Stagefreight’s latest trucks are the subject of flexible, low-cost Agility funding packages from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, which allow operators to choose from a wide range of options at the end of the term. “Our plan is to keep the vehicles beyond the initial, agreed term, but it’s good to know we can put off the decision until much later in the day,” Uttley added.

Once Stagefreight has taken delivery of its final two Actros it will be running 35 tractor units, with Mercedes-Benz claiming close to 80 per cent of the fleet, and 80 highly specialised trailers. The company supports touring productions by the likes of Opera North, Northern Ballet and English National Ballet, as well as exhibitions and corporate events across Europe and beyond.

“Our drivers can often be away from home for weeks at a time, so a comfortable, safe and well-equipped truck is of paramount importance,” Uttley continued. “The Actros ticks all of these boxes and is definitely our vehicle of choice at the moment.”