Transport for London (TfL) has published world-first research by the University of Leeds and the Arup consultancy, which proves that 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.
The findings have been published as TfL launches the first consultation into the use of its world-first ‘zero to five star’ Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) operating in the UK capital. The 12-week consultation runs until April 18, and aims to identify how the new standard can be best used to reduce road casualties on London’s roads. Under the Mayor’s plans, the most dangerous HGVs will be banned from London’s streets entirely by January 2020. These HGVs, often ‘off-road’ trucks, would be ‘zero-star rated’ by the DVS, determined by the level of vision the driver has directly from the cab. By setting out their plans now, TfL expects many dangerous trucks will be upgraded before the restriction on the most dangerous HGVs comes into place in 2020.
Recent data shows 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 making 4% of the miles driven in the capital. As part of the new research, a simulator was used to replicate a real-life driving situation for the first time, and it showed that the amount of direct vision a driver has could be a crucial factor in allowing a dangerous collision to be avoided. The study showed that drivers respond, on average 0.7 seconds slower when checking blind spots and monitors, compared with checking these areas directly through the windows. This delay can result in a lorry travelling an extra 5ft (1.5m) before seeing a nearby road user enough to cause death or serious injury. TfL and the Greater London Authority are leading by example and will include the new DVS in new contracts from April.
“This new research 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,” explained London Mayor Sadiq Khan. “Our ground-breaking Direct Vision Standard will be the first of its kind in the world, and we’re confident that many of the most dangerous lorries on London’s roads will be upgraded before our ban comes into place.”
Dan Evanson, project manager at Arup, commented, “By running the first simulated cognitive tests on drivers of this nature, we have demonstrated that direct visibility is a significant factor in accident avoidance, and that reducing HGV drivers’ reliance on aids, such as multiple mirrors and in-cab visual display units (VDUs), could significantly improve the safety of our roads. It gives clear evidence that introducing lorries with bigger windows will make city streets safer.”