On the streets of London, the CLOCS ticking for truck owners in the UK capital. There’s been a growing debate in the UK on how to avoid collisions between commercial vehicles and cyclists. Truck suppliers and operators recently gathered in London to showcase their latest cycle-friendly products.
In 2011 an analysis of nine cycling fatalities involving trucks in London discovered that seven of them were construction vehicles, triggering concerns that while the construction industry accounted for only a small-proportion of freight-traffic running in and out of the nation’s capital, their trucks were ‘over-represented’ in cyclist fatalities.
The following year Transport for London ( TfL, the body responsible for most aspects of the transport system in the Greater London area) responded by commissioning the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to examine those cycle/truck collisions and suggest ways of avoiding them. Its subsequent draft report noted “…visibility of cyclists in some areas around construction vehicles still has the potential to be poor” before declaring, “…it is clear that there is great potential for driver error and high mental-workload in construction industry driving, and multiple changes will be needed to reduce this.”
Amongst their many recommendations, TRL’s researchers also suggested “…vehicle manufacturers should seek to identify and implement design improvements, which might be made specifically for vehicles driving on London’s streets. This could include changes to windscreen, or dashboard design, as well as new technologies and improved mirror design.” Soon after the TRL report appeared, TfL set-up its Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety scheme (aka CLOCS), in a bid to reduce cyclist and construction truck collisions. Over the past few years it’s been highly successful in engaging several ‘stakeholders’, and not just construction companies, but also all kinds of truck-fleets delivering into London, as well as highway engineers, safety groups, enforcement agencies and local authorities.
For their part, the truck makers have actively engaged with CLOCS by examining the specification of their construction and delivery models, seeking ways to reduce the acknowledged driver blind-spots identified in the original TRL report, the most obvious being around the kerbside and front nearside corner. The result is a crop of new ‘cycle-friendly’ models. Some feature a number of relatively minor changes to axles, wheels and tyres to reduce the height of the driving position (thereby improving driver sight-lines), whilst others have adopted a more radical approach, based on low-entry cabs normally found on refuse trucks. Hi-tech nearside object-detection systems, audible turn warnings, 360° coverage cameras and additional side windows also feature prominently. At a recent CLOCS progress meeting in London DIESEL witnessed the latest safety-optimised trucks on display.
A number of operators have already trialled Mercedes Benz’s highly popular three-axle 26 tonne GVM Econic low-entry cab refuse chassis as an urban tipper. At the CLOCS show Benz(UK) unveiled its latest 350hp eight-wheeler Econic city-tipper with a ‘triple’ rear-bogie, comprising a tandem drive and tag-steer. The 32-tonne GVM rigid has the 7.7 litre OM 936LA Euro-6 diesel and an Allison six-speed auto. Econic’s low-entry cab and full-height glazed door provides excellent lateral nearside vision.
Now Volvo has joined the low-entry cab club with its latest FE LEC which sits 200 mm lower than a normal FE cab, giving its driver a better all-round view, helped by the passenger door’s extra lower glazed panel. The 26 tonne GVM rear-steer FE LEC’s 320hp 7.7 litre D8 diesel can be specced with either Volvo’s 12-speed I-Shift auto or an Allison.
The low-entry cab on DHL’s 18-tonne GVW ‘City Safe, City Quiet’ P280 Scania concept delivery truck significantly improves driver sight-lines for spotting vulnerable road users (VRUs). Its 9.3 litre 280hp five-cylinder CNG engine is coupled to an Allison six-speed. Along with nearside proximity sensors it also has a ‘Bird’s Eye View’ 360° four-camera system giving the driver all-round vision within a single image on the dash-mounted monitor.