Commission indicates breakthrough on safer trucks

The battle to make urban trucks safer for all road users appears to have taken a significant step forward. The European Commission has admitted it is considering making the required field of vision for a truck driver dependent on the class of vehicle he or she is driving. This could mean safer standards come into effect much sooner than originally feared.

Efforts to make the design of goods vehicles safer for all road users have focused on the ‘direct vision’ field for drivers. By defining a minimum field of vision that a driver must be able to see without mirrors or cameras, driver blind spots can be reduced. This should lead to numerous road deaths being avoided, especially among cyclists and pedestrians who many truck drivers do not see. But progress has been slow, with the Commission promising only to introduce direct-vision standards for the biggest trucks, and then only from 2028.

Now the internal market commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has said the Commission is considering differentiating direct-vision requirements by class of vehicle when it revises vehicle safety rules early next year. This means there could be different requirements for urban delivery vans, construction trucks and long-haul lorries, which would mean truckmakers could adapt each class of vehicle in its fleet more quickly.

T&E’s trucks officer Stef Cornelis said: ‘The current plan to limit direct vision standards to the biggest trucks is inadequate, and the target date of 2028 is far too late. The Commission’s plan to differentiate the standard by type of truck will address the problem more directly and allow for quicker solutions, thereby reducing the number of people unnecessarily killed on Europe’s roads.’

The Commission’s proposals were due by the end of this year but may not be published until early 2018. Bienkowska’s admission that Brussels is considering differentiation by vehicle class came in a response to a parliamentary question from an MEP. It is available online but has not been widely publicised.