From 2020, in London, the kind of trucks will be very different from those currently entering the city. Diesel News’ European Correspondent, Brian Weatherley, reports on the latest moves to boost direct driver vision in the nation’s capital.
What’s happening in London today could well happen in Sydney, Brisbane or Perth tomorrow. No? Don’t be so sure (in fact, it’s beginning to happen in Melbourne now).
In a bid to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries arising from collisions between trucks and vulnerable road users or ‘VRUs’ (that’s primarily cyclists and pedestrians), Transport for London (TfL), the authority that regulates all surface transport in the city, has unveiled its very own Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) working in the capital.
While it’s currently seen as a London initiative it could well gain traction in other British cities.
What TfL is proposing is to categorise the direct vision from a truck cab according to a zero to five star-rating system, with zero stars applied to those with the lowest direct vision and five the highest. For ‘Direct’ vision, simply read what drivers can see by looking through the windscreen and side windows of their cab, as opposed to indirect vision provided by mirrors, sensors or cameras.
Right now TfL is negotiating with the truck makers to agree on what the finished standard should look like, but whatever the outcome the DVS has to go through three separate consultation periods (the first ended in April) before it can become law. However, TfL’s end-game is that trucks with a ‘zero’ star rating will be banned from London’s streets from January 2020, while only those with three stars or more (classified as having a good/high rating under the planned standard) will be allowed on London’s roads by 2024.
If you’re wondering what trucks might fall within that zero-star category, in broad terms we’re talking about those ‘N3G’ construction trucks (e.g. tippers and mixers) with high-mounted cabs and high ground clearance.
Why them especially? Because N3G trucks, which spend a significant proportion of their time off-road, have been identified in accident research as having greater blind spots and being involved in more cyclist collisions in London than your average on-road model. Furthermore, tests have confirmed that the height of a cab, and consequently the height of its driving position, can significantly affect how much direct vision a driver has.
While taller cabs are great on a motorway, allowing you to see well ahead, when you’re driving in the city you need to be seated lower down if you want a good view of what’s happening around the front and nearside front corner of a truck, i.e. the classic accident blind-spot on a right-hand drive truck turning left.