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Pedestrians and cyclists form a disproportionately high percentage of victims of road accidents involving trucks, as traditional designs for the cabs of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) have left drivers with blind spots in which they struggle to see pedestrians and cyclists. But the technology exists to vastly improve a truck driver’s view when turning, and these systems will become obligatory during the 2020s.
Last month the mayor of London Sadiq Khan wrote to the EU industry commissioner Elzbieta Bieńkowska saying the deadlines for introducing direct vision requirements could be brought forward by two or three years. And now Germany’s transport minister Andreas Scheuer (pictured) has said the same for sensors, calling for ‘a much more ambitious approach at EU level’.
Scheuer made his remarks in a closed session of EU transport ministers, but his comments were leaked to Politico. It reported Scheuer calling for mandatory installation of sensors (which give drivers a warning of a road user they may not be able to see) ‘much earlier than [the Commission’s deadline of] 2024’.
Sensors are only a part of the solution though. The amount of road space that a truck driver must see is not regulated in Europe. A ‘direct vision requirement’ is included in the Commission’s proposal to improve truck safety and this would help reduce blind spots in new trucks sold.
Samuel Kenny said: ‘Sensors are helpful but they rely on drivers seeing why the alert has been triggered. It’s also possible that they might sound constantly in cities where cyclists and pedestrians are in close proximity, which could reduce their effectiveness. Redesigning trucks to improve direct vision should be the priority with sensors fitted to compliment such redesign.’