Research pinpoints most dangerous HGV cab designs

HGVs with high cabs pose the greatest risk to vulnerable road users, research commissioned by TfL has found.

The study, carried out by Loughborough University, analysed the cab designs of 19 of the most widely used HGVs and found that those with high cabs have the most blind spots.

It was commissioned by TfL because HGVs are disproportionately involved in collisions involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in London.

The research team from the Loughborough Design School digitally scanned all 19 vehicles to create exact CAD models that could then be accurately assessed.

Using real collision data they then recreated scenarios involving vulnerable road users, placing them in a number of locations adjacent to all the vehicles, and plotting exactly where blind spots existed.

On the back of the research, the team is calling for a new standard which defines what should be directly visible from a HGV cab, describing this as ‘a key mechanism for improving future vehicle designs’.

Steve Summerskill, project leader, said: “We found that all standard vehicle configurations have blind spots which can hide vulnerable road users from the driver’s direct vision.

“However, the height of the cab above the ground is the key vehicle factor which affects the size of direct vision and indirect vision blind spots. Low entry cab designs, which are the lowest of the 19 vehicles tested, demonstrated real benefits in terms of reducing direct vision blind spots when compared to standard vehicle designs.

“If you seriously want to reduce the number of collisions involving vulnerable road users and HGVs you have to improve the direct field of vision for drivers – and from our research this means lowering HGV cab designs or adopting low entry cab designs.”

Ian Wainwright, head of freight and fleet at TfL, added: “The best decisions are those based on evidence, and the research that we commissioned Loughborough to undertake is another tool in the box to make the right choices to improve road safety.

“This research into comparing direct vision of HGV drivers will create the platform to take efforts on road safety further.”

02 August 2016