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Khan says all new truck models should have to meet the direct vision standard by 2024, and all new trucks sold should comply by 2026. “I believe we can and should be more ambitious,” he writes. Bieńkowska had proposed that all new models should comply with a ‘direct vision requirement’ in their cabs by 2026, and by 2020 for all trucks on the road – assuming the revised General Safety Regulation is passed in 2019.
Currently there are no rules in place governing the amount of the road truck drivers must be able to see, leading to deadly blindspots that endanger cyclists and pedestrians. Khan tells the Commissioner that in London in 2016, 23% of pedestrian and 50% of cyclist deaths involved a heavy-goods vehicle, despite HGVs making up only 4% of distance travelled in the city. In Europe, 3,848 people died in 2015 in accidents involving trucks; 579 were pedestrians, 282 were cyclists, and 263 were on motorbikes. “We must take action now to minimise road danger,” Khan writes.
T&E’s freight policy officer, Samuel Kenny, said: “People are dying in our streets because trucks are so badly designed that the driver can’t see anything. We know how to fix this – the designs are already on the streets. We need to make this happen a lot faster.”
Khan also wants the European Commission to take back control of the direct vision standard’s implementation from the UN standard-setting body, the UNECE, if it fails to act fast. He writes: “… if UNECE do not produce a standard in time to facilitate this timetable, the European Commission should finalise that work itself.”
In its proposal the Commission included a “direct vision requirement” for all new trucks but provided no details of that requirement. T&E said such details must be set out in EU law if the full benefits of improved direct vision are to be seen on the road. The EU law should state that the requirement removes the blindspot to the front and driver’s side of a truck, while significantly reducing the blindspot to the passenger’s side. Furthermore, the requirement should be differentiated according to truck category to ensure that every truck on the road improves on safety. This would define the parameters for future UNECE or EU legislation.
Samuel Kenny concluded: “The Commission’s proposal was a useful start but leaves too much ambiguity around the proposed direct vision standard. Now MEPs and member states need to clearly define what will be required of truckmakers while also differentiating the standard according to truck category so that the most ambitious improvements possible are made to each truck type.”
The Commission’s proposal to revise the GSR has been sent to the European Parliament and Council and it’s now up to MEPs and transport ministers to amend it, including bringing forward the implementation dates for the direct vision standard. That requires the MEPs to act fast so that the revision is passed before the Parliament breaks for elections next year.