Direct vision for lorry drivers has ‘substantial impact’ on road safety

Having direct vision from the cab of a lorry, rather than relying on mirrors and monitors, has a substantial impact on improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists, new TfL research has found.

Published today (25 Jan), the findings coincide with the launch of a consultation into the use of the world-first ‘zero to five star’ Direct Vision Standard for HGVs operating in the Capital. The 12-week consultation runs until 18 April and aims to identify how the new Standard can be best used to reduce casualties on London’s roads.

A simulator used as part of the research project to replicate a real-life driving situation confirmed that the amount of direct vision a driver has can be a crucial factor in avoiding a dangerous collision.

The study showed that drivers responded, on average, 0.7 second slower when checking blind spots and monitors compared to directly through the cab’s windows. This delay can result in a lorry travelling an extra 1.5 metres before a nearby road user is seen, which could result in death or serious injury.

Under plans unveiled by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in September, the most dangerous HGVs will be banned from London’s streets entirely by January 2020. These HGVs, often ‘off-road’ lorries, would be ‘zero-star rated’ by the Direct Vision Standard – determined by the level of vision the driver has directly from the cab. TfL hopes that by setting out its plans now, many dangerous lorries will be upgraded before then.

TfL points to recent data showing that HGVs were involved in 22.5% of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist fatalities on London’s roads in 2014 and 2015, despite only accounting for 4% of the miles driven in the Capital.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “This new research being released today shows how important it is we take bold action to address dangerous and poorly designed lorries operating in the Capital.

“HGVs with poor vision of cyclists, pedestrians and other road users from their cabin should simply not be allowed on London’s roads. Every time someone is killed by a lorry on London’s roads it is an appalling tragedy.

“Our ground-breaking Direct Vision Standard will be the first of its kind in the world, and TfL will lead by example by not using any zero-star lorries in its future supply chain.

“By continuing to work closely with industry, and beginning our first consultation now, we’re confident that many of the most dangerous lorries on London’s roads will be upgraded before our ban comes into place.”

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said: “Removing lorries that are unsuitable for London’s busy roads will improve road safety for all. Our Direct Vision Standard will be key in this and by continuing to engage with the freight industry it can begin to have a positive effect now.

“This won’t just increase safety, it will improve how our streets are used. We now know that another benefit of being able to make eye contact with a driver is that it makes pedestrian and cyclists feel safer, and this feeling can make our streets nicer places to live in and visit.”

Picture: TfL

25 January 2017