An appalling number of cyclists are killed by big trucks on either side of the Atlantic, mostly by turning and squishing cyclists in their blind spots. Taras Grescoe tweets that trucks were responsible for 9 of the 14 cyclist deaths this month. There are so many contributing factors, including lousy infrastructure, poor driver training, and cyclists not understanding how dangerous it is to be in that space beside a big truck, or HGV as they call them in the UK.
Safety Shield Systems has developed a new technology that scans all around the vehicle, identifying pedestrians and cyclists, that may cut the carnage. According to their website,
CSS detects multiple cyclists and pedestrians and advises the driver of their position, this gives the driver a warning so even if there is a cyclist in their view there may also be another cyclist in their blind spot.
The system trains the driver that multiple cyclists and pedestrians can be surrounding their vehicle especially in city environments. The CSS visually warns the driver when they are present and can also be partnered with monitors which show the positions of all drivers and cyclists in real time.
By this style of warning and display the driver does not get complacent and starts to check all of his safety aids before making a manoeuvre.
But it does a lot more, including forward collision warning to avoid rear-enders, lane departure warning if the truck starts drifting, traffic sign warning and even head-lamp control to turn down the damn highbeams. Oh, and it stores it all in a black box so the owner of the truck knows what is going on.
It stores how many late braking, lane departures without signals, near misses ECT that the driver encounters which is an excellent platform to develop further training.
According to Cycling Weekly,
Safety Shield Systems' Jon Guest said in the company's US trial there was a 60 per cent improvement in driver behaviour and around a 20 per cent increase in fuel efficiency following installation of the technology. He said: "With the 360-degree camera you can see fully all the way around the vehicle. If someone walks out in front the collision avoidance system warns the driver, giving him time to stop."
So here is a system that saves fuel, avoids crashes, keeps the driver alert and saves lives. Starting at US $1300 it isn't even that expensive. Should it be on every truck? Road safety expert Kevin Clinton tells Cycling Weekly:
With technologies of this type, the key thing is to trial them to make sure they work reliably and that they do not overload the driver with too many things to check and too many alerts to interpret. Also, there is a need to train drivers in the use of the technology so they can use it correctly without over relying on it.
And of course in North America, where they won't even make sideguards compulsory because they say it will be a burden on the trucking industry, it will never happen.
Found on the BBC, where they have a good video after a very annoying commercial.