Seeing is believing: EU agrees new ‘direct vision’ law to end truck blind-spot accidents
MEPs and EU governments have this morning agreed a new life-saving measure that will drastically reduce deadly blind-spots in trucks and buses, enabling their drivers to better see pedestrians and cyclists. Transport & Environment (T&E) said the world’s first ‘direct vision’ standard – under the EU’s revised General Safety Regulation – will help avoid many road collisions by improving the design of new vehicles and not forcing drivers to rely on technology like sensors and cameras to know what’s around them.
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This afternoon MEPs are also expected to give final approval to a separate law that will make Europe’s brick-shaped truck cab designs longer and rounder, improving safety and reducing emissions.
The direct vision standard governs the amount of the road drivers must be able to see directly (not through mirrors or cameras), and from September 2025 all new types of truck and bus models sold in Europe will have to meet it. From September 2028 all new trucks and buses sold must comply. Trucks with low-entry cabs already have excellent direct vision and prevent road fatalities.
Samuel Kenny, transport safety officer of T&E, said: “This law ensures truckmakers design vehicles in a way that the driver can actually see what’s happening around their vehicle. It will prevent deaths simply because drivers will have direct sight of pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. The benefits will especially be felt in cities where road users are in close proximity with trucks.”
Trucks are about 2% of vehicles on the road but represent 15% of fatalities. 4,000 people die every year in truck collisions in Europe, 1,000 of which are cyclists and pedestrians. The European Commission found that improving the direct vision performance of trucks would save up to 550 lives per year.
The different levels of direct vision required of each truck and bus type will be determined by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). EU lawmakers included an obligation for this work to be completed by September 2022, giving truck manufacturers adequate lead-in time to produce vehicles that meet the standard.
Samuel Kenny concluded: “The UNECE is an opaque body based in Geneva and dominated by automakers. Still, it gets the biggest say on what this direct-vision standard, needed to protect European cyclists, will look like. The European Commission and the national representatives that take part in the work in Geneva must hold the UNECE to account. If insufficient progress is made in the next two years, the Commission should develop a European standard.”
EU governments still need to rubber-stamp the deal and it will also be voted on by MEPs in the European Parliament’s internal market committee on 2 April. A final vote in the full parliament is likely to take place after the elections in May. It’s vital that the law is finalised as soon as possible because the application dates for the safety features included in the regulation refer to the date the law is published. The sooner that is, the sooner the EU has safer vehicles on its roads.