Safer trucks

Trucks account for more than 4,000 fatalities a year across the EU. Approximately 1,000 of these deaths are cyclists and pedestrians. According to London data, trucks are involved in 78% of cycle fatalities and 20% of pedestrian fatalities. In early 2018 the European Commission is due to present a proposal to revise the General Safety Regulation (GSR). The GSR is the leading piece of EU road safety legislation, and this will be the first reform since 2009. Therefore it is a once-in-a-decade opportunity. To inform this revision, the Commission is conducting a public consultation in early Autumn 2017, and it has made a number of documents available including an assessment of cost effectiveness and a background document for the consultation itself.

Direct vision

Direct vision is what the driver can see with his or her own eyes, without the aid of mirrors or cameras. Unlike cars, trucks are not subject to any minimum standard for direct vision. The reform of the GSR offers the chance to remedy this. Improved direct vision could save 550 lives a year in the EU, according to research by Transport Research Laboratories.

A number of manufacturers have already come forward with low-entry cabs. As can be seen from the photos below, these cabs give drivers significantly enhanced 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.

Some, but not all, truckmakers have reacted to calls for direct vision by saying that its provision adds a prohibitive level of cost. In response to this, T&E advocates a differentiated approach, with different vision requirements applied to different vehicle classes, and progress secured over time.

The main truck classes are urban delivery, large distribution and construction vehicles, and a best-in-class approach could be taken for each category (instead of applying a single high-vision cab approach to all trucks).

In an important development, Commissioner Bieńkowska has said that “a differentiated approach may be justified for direct vision standards for trucks driven mostly on motorways and for city delivery trucks more likely to affect pedestrians and cyclists”, and she has committed the Commission’s Impact Assessment to study this issue further.

In addition to direct vision, T&E is also working to introduce:

  • Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS): this has been promised by some truckmakers since 2013 but is still not found in any truck on the market
  • Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), for example, higher accelerator pedal resistance when the driver is exceeding the speed limit
  • Better underrun and lateral protection, particularly improved front underrun protection, which could prevent up to 134 deaths and up to 900 serious injuries a year in the EU
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS): work by T&E has shown that indirect TPMS, increasingly used by carmakers, are simply not effective and instead waste fuel
  • Mandatory warning, detection and camera systems

T&E’s work on safety is supported by Transport for London, FIA Foundation, the LIFE operating grant of the European Commission and T&E’s members.