"Direct Vision" Requirement Approved for London Trucks

Econic in London with cyclist

New trucks will all have much greater visibility for the drivers, saving lives of people who walk and cycle.

Everything about trucks is different in the UK. Even the names; they are lorries or HGVs, or Heavy Goods Vehicles. In London between 2015 and 2017, according to Adrian Wills in Cycling UK, HGVs "accounted for 63 per cent of all fatal collisions involving cyclists and 25 per cent of fatal collisions involving pedestrians, despite only making up four per cent of the miles driven in the capital."

©. Mercedes Econic

© Mercedes EconicWhat is also different in the UK is that they actually have been doing something about the problem. Regulations were just approved that will categorize HGVs according to the level of the driver's vision, and given a rating between zero stars and five stars. In 2020 all HGVs will have to meet the minimum of one star, then three stars in 2024. Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK Head of Campaigns, said:

In years to come, people will wonder with amazement why more wasn’t done before now to restrict lorries with huge blind spots from city centres and urban areas alongside pedestrians and cyclists.
view from inside

© Mercedes Econic

Will Norman, the Walking and Cycling Commissioner for London, says:

Improving HGV safety standards will dramatically reduce danger for both cyclists and pedestrians. This will enable more people to cycle and walk as part of their everyday routine – improving their health and helping tackle London’s toxic air.

There will also be new "safe systems" for trucks that don't meet the new standards, where cameras and sensors can be added to the existing fleet. Transport for London is working with the industry to figure out standards that will come into force in 2024. Every truck that comes into London will have to have a rating.

Mack in the bike lane

Mack Truck in the Toronto bike lane/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

We have discussed this many times before on TreeHugger, how so many deaths in the roads are caused by bad design, of both the roads and the vehicles. I was particularly incensed by a case in New York City where the driver of a truck was not charged because "prosecutors said they believed [driver] Hernandez’s visibility was hindered due to the truck’s design and because the victim was 5'5" tall" – an inch taller than me.

People also shrink when they get older. In coming years there are going to be way more short people trying to get across the roads. Everybody should be worries about this.

But in Canada and the States, there is no will at all even to make side guards mandatory; the trucking industry fights every life-saving innovation, saying it will add weight (and increase fuel consumption) or reduce loads (and reduce revenue). Dead pedestrians and cyclists are a minor inconvenience. And old people are just a costly burden anyway.