Heavy goods vehicles are involved in more than half the cycling fatalities on London’s roads, and more than a fifth of pedestrian deaths, despite making up only 4% of motor traffic. London’s transport authority, TfL, is taking drastic action to address the issue – here’s how it's likely to affect you.
TfL’s proposed Direct Vision Standard (DVS) will require all HGVs over 12 tonnes to have a safety permit to operate in Greater London. Trucks will be assessed using a star rating system from zero (poor) to five (excellent), based on how much a driver can see directly through their cab windows. From October 2020, only one-star HGVs will be permitted to enter the city. From 2024, HGVs will need to have three stars.
It’s important to note that the European Commission has indicated that this is likely to roll out to other cities across Europe. That’s why truck owners need to keep a close eye on the coming developments – they’re certainly going to have a considerable impact on the transport industry in Europe.
Thankfully, in London, it will be possible to retrofit existing trucks that don’t comply with the 2020 regulations by adopting the proposed ‘Safe System’ – a series of measures designed to reduce the risks HGVs present to cyclists and pedestrians. These include a camera monitoring system, class V and VI mirrors, driver sensor systems, audible warnings and external stickers to alert vulnerable road users, plus sideguards to prevent under-run collisions. A ‘Progressive Safe System’ has also been outlined ahead of the 2024 requirements. It will take into account additional technology or safety equipment not available in 2020.
As truck manufacturers respond to increasing safety demands, new truck designs with improved visibility will come to market. Some are likely to have lower cabs that place the driver almost at eye level with cyclists and pedestrians (although that has its own disadvantages), others will offer a combination of features for better direct vision – enlarged side windows and slimmer, straighter A pillars coupled with enhanced sensor systems.
I believe what is happening in London is just the start – traffic safety regulations in urban areas all over the world are set to have a significant effect on the transport industry. Ensuring maximum visibility for drivers in cities must therefore be a primary concern for fleet owners in the near future.
(DVS star ratings are now available from truck manufacturers – to enquire about the current rating of your trucks you will need to provide the chassis number).
Anna Wrige Berling is Traffic and Product Safety Director for Volvo Trucks. Anna develops and maintains the vision, the strategy and the guidelines connected to safety as a core value for Volvo Trucks. She provides internal and external shareholders with expert guidance and is a spokesperson for our industry. Anna joined the Volvo Group in 2000 and has more than 15 years of experience working with traffic and vehicle safety. During 2008-2012 she headed the Volvo Trucks’ Accident Research Team.