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Improve blind spots, save lives says FTA

The Freight Transport Association has called for progress to changes in HGV vehicle design, to improve the aerodynamics and reduce blind spots.

The association said its members currently spend hundreds of thousands of pounds retrofitting existing HGVs to improve visibility from the cab, but that the best way to eliminate blind spots among these vehicles is to “design them out”.

It said that removing regulatory barriers within the design would result in fuel savings and reduced emissions, as well as important safety benefits.

“FTA is fully supportive and engaged in the discussions taking place with the European Commission regarding improved HGV vehicle design,” said head of urban logistics & regional policy at the FTA, Christopher Snelling.

Redesigning lorries for an entire industry is certainly a long-term plan, and might seem highly ambitious. But the London Cycling Campaign has form when it comes to taking on dangerous lorries, for example successfully campaigning for rules which mean freight companies cannot get TfL contracts unless their lorries have the latest safety equipment and drivers are trained to look out for cyclists.

“What the construction industry says is that they like high clearance on their lorries because they think of them as off road machines for when they go on building sites,” he said. “But there’s always a compromise between lorry’s capabilities and their safety on the roads, and we’re saying that balance has gone too far the first way. Also, construction sites are changing and they tend to be less like an off-road environment.

“Drivers are worried about getting stuck. But you have to adjust the way you drive to the vehicle you’re driving. If you’re driving one of these lorries you just have to drive it in a more skilled way. It’s all about a balance.” says Mike Cavenett of the LCC.

Speaking to The Guardian in March 2013, Nigel Jackson, the chief executive of the Mineral Products Association, said: “MPA is happy to consider any innovation in vehicle design which could help reduce the risk of collision between lorries and any vulnerable road user.”

The LGV Training Company has been very active in its support of cycle safety campaigners, InTandem, and works alongside its nationwide schools to ensure that the safety of other road users features heavily in all of its HGV training courses.

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