Trucks are involved in around 4,000 fatal collisions each year in the EU and the UK, and approximately 900 of these deaths are cyclists and pedestrians. For each fatality, five more suffer severe injuries with life-changing consequences.
Direct vision for truck drivers
Direct vision is what the driver can see with their own eyes, without the aid of mirrors or cameras. Unlike cars, trucks have not been subject to any minimum standard for direct vision. Improved direct vision could save 550 lives a year in the EU. In 2019 new EU legislation (passed as part of the reform of the General Safety Regulation) mandated that new trucks “shall be designed and constructed so as to enhance the direct visibility of vulnerable road users from the driver seat, by reducing, to the greatest possible extent the blind spots in front and to the side of the driver, while taking into account the specificities of different categories of vehicles”.
Working with the EU and around 30 other countries, the UN’s Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is bringing forward specific proposals on how to implement the above commitment across the different truck categories. A number of manufacturers have already come forward with low-entry cabs. As can be seen from the photo below, these cabs give drivers significantly improved direct vision, thereby improving safety for all road users.
The evidence for direct vision is overwhelming. On average drivers react 0.7 seconds faster seeing something with their own eyes as compared to viewing it through intermediate aids such as mirrors or cameras.
Today the front of European truck cabs are flat faced. They need to be redesigned to deliver better aerodynamics, vision, safety and driver comfort.
The reform of the weights and dimensions legislation in 2019 means that truckmakers can put more aerodynamic and safer truck cabs on the road from September 2020.
Overall, our work on truck design is complemented by our work on road charging and fuel taxation. At the same time we reject claims that increasing the load capacity of lorries (mega-trucks) could contribute to lower emissions in road freight in any meaningful way.