EU must mandate direct vision lorry standards – response to new study

EU must mandate direct vision lorry standards – response to new study

A new, and detailed, Loughborough University  comparative study of safer lorries shows some trucks have several extensive blind spots while others enjoy clear vision all around their vehicles. The difference can be vital in preventing collisions.

Citing the Loughborough data, the Brussels based transport NGO 'Transport and Environment' is calling on the EU to define a direct vision (not via mirrors) standard and then mandate such standards for lorries, notably urban distribution vehicles. 

In London TfL has already said that it is working on a new ‘direct vision’ standard for lorries.

Echoing what has driven the calls for safer lorries in London, Transport and Environment highlights the high number of cyclist deaths involving lorries in Europe:  

“In Belgium, 43% of cycling fatalities involve trucks, in Holland 38% and in the UK 33%. In some cities, like London, trucks cause more than 50% of cyclist deaths.”

It is worth noting that pedestrians can be equally vulnerable with 25% of fatal collision in 2014 involving a lorry.

 

The Loughborough study examines a range of vehicles from the best like the Mercedes Econic, Dennis Eagle Elite, and Scania LEC which have excellent direct vision to those which have the poorest direct vision like the Man TGS.

Their summary conclusions (see below) highlight the point that low entry cabs, like the one LCC has campaigned for to become the London standard, are the best choice for good visibility:  

Low entry cab designs, which are the lowest of the 19 vehicles tested, demonstrated real benefits in terms of reducing direct vision blind spots when compared to standard vehicle designs “

The study also highlights the problems of visibility from higher construction vehicle cabs:

“The increased mounting height of construction vehicle cabs produces larger direct vision blind spots which are a potential contributory factor to accidents between construction vehicles and vulnerable road users.”

The full list of summarised findings:

1.      All standard vehicle configurations have blind spots which can hide VRUs (vulnerable road users) from the driver’s direct vision

2.      The height of the cab above the ground is the key vehicle factor which affects the size of direct vision and indirect vision blind spots  

3.      The design of window apertures and the driver location in relation to these window apertures can reduce the size of the identified blind spots. i.e. two different vehicle designs with the same cab height can have different results for blind spot size due to window design and driver seat location  

4.      Low entry cab designs, which are the lowest of the 19 vehicles tested, demonstrated real benefits in terms of reducing direct vision blind spots when compared to standard vehicle designs  

5.      The construction vehicles assessed in the project are on average 32% higher than the same cab design in the distribution configuration

6.      For construction vehicles the distance away that a pedestrian in front of the vehicle can be hidden from the driver’s view is on average nearly three times greater than the distribution vehicles

7.       For the construction vehicles the distance away that a cyclist to the passenger side of the vehicle can be hidden is on average more than two times greater than the distribution vehicles

8.       The work has highlighted the need for a new standard which defines what should be visible through direct vision from the vehicle. Such a standard does not currently exist, and is seen as a key mechanism for improving future vehicle designs.      

 

L     LCC's  pre-Mayoral election campaign to make lorries with minimal blind spots the London standard received support from Mayor Sadiq Khan who said:

“I will promote safer, cleaner lorries. I will work with the boroughs and using City Hall procurement to set new safety standards, work to make sure City Hall and TfL contracts specify ‘direct-vision’ lorries, and use planning and other powers available to me, so that the safest lorry types become the norm on London’s streets as soon as possible.”

One finding of the Loughborough team is an obvious re-enforcement of the call to the EU to establish direct vision standards.

 “the design of window apertures is not regulated by European Commission standards. That is, there are no criteria by which the design of windows are tested to ensure that they are allowing suitable direct vision of the world outside of the cab. It is only the indirect vision available to the driver through mirrors that is regulated. Therefore further work is required in establishing a direct vision standard that provides guidelines for the ability of the driver to be able to see VRUs and other objects around the vehicle. This is seen as a key mechanism for improving future vehicle designs.”

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