Direct vision: TRL study finds sensors more effective than cab design

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A study by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the Centre Européen d’Etudes de Sécurité  et d’Analyse des Risques (CEESAR) found that vehicle safety devices, such as sensors, were 50% more effective at reducing fatalities and injuries than modifying vehicle design.

The study also found that active safety measures drew the attention of the driver to the safety critical area and to vulnerable road users.  

“Even with the best field of view in a low-entry cabin with glass side panels, the field of view can be obstructed by a passenger or bag on the seat. A driver can only look in one direction at a time and might still fail to notice a cyclist or pedestrian on the other side of the vehicle,” said Emily Hardy from Brigade Electronics.

“To improve all-round visibility, fleet operators should consider a four-camera system connected to ultrasonic proximity sensors to alert the driver, via an on-screen display, when there is someone or something in a blind spot. The system will also give an audible warning alarm when a cyclist moves into the danger zone.”

The London Direct Vision Scheme (DVS) scheme was set in motion after it was revealed that HGVs were involved in 63% of fatal collisions with cyclists and 25% of pedestrian deaths on the city’s streets. This is despite HGVs making up only 4% of miles driven in the city. The scheme is part of an ambitious wider initiative to achieve zero deaths and serious injuries in the city by 2041.

The DVS will categorise HGVs in terms of a driver’s field of vision from the cab. Vehicles over 12 tonnes will be given a safety rating and only those that meet the minimum requirements for direct vision, or can show equivalent measures to reduce risks to vulnerable road users, will be issued with a safety permit to operate on the streets of London. HGVs from all other countries will also be expected to comply with the standard.  

Operators would be able to achieve compliance by retrofitting additional sensors or modifying their cabs in line with TFL’s guidance.

European organisations are calling for a Europe-wide direct vision standard to be introduced to improve visibility from trucks on a global level.

A host of signatories, including the European Transport Safety Council and the European Cyclists’ Federation submitted a letter to EU commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker calling for measures to eliminate blind spots in HGVs. 

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