London Cycling Campaign )
Blind spots in lorries are a major cause of collisions leading to pedestrian and cyclists fatalities on the roads. The European Commission has now decided that eliminating blind spots must become an integral part of how all new lorries are designed. Vehicles with fewer blind spots where drivers have a larger field of vision are often called “direct vision” lorries.
The new regulation, part of a range of improvements to the EU’s General Safety Regulations, will make it obligatory for all new HGV vehicle ‘types’ (i.e. new model designs) to have good direct vision from 4 years after legislation is passed, and for all new lorries to have good direct vision 7 years after. Brexit will likely not impact these rules, as manufacturers will be very unlikely to continue production of non-compliant lorries for use only within the UK.
The regulation has yet to be approved by the European Council and ratified by the European Parliament and there may be attempts to delay the start dates.
LCC welcomes the measure and wants to see it formally approved urgently, so further deaths of pedestrians and cyclists are prevented. In London, around half of cyclist fatalities involve a lorry, and in 2018 to date, both tragic cyclist deaths have both involved a lorry.
The new regulation reads: ‘Vehicles of categories M2, M3, (bus categories) N2 (HGVs over 3,5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes) and N3 (HGVs over 12 tonnes) shall be designed and constructed so as to enhance the direct visibility of vulnerable road users from the driver seat.’
For more on the benefits of direct vision watch this TfL video. Mayor Sadiq Khan has promised to make lorries with good direct vision the norm on London’s roads and a direct vision standard has already been established by TfL. Lorries which do not meet the lowest (one star) standard will not be allowed into London from 2020 unless they adopt a range of so-called “mitigation” measures that help compensate for blind spots, including cameras, alert systems and training, set out by TfL.