Euro Parliament votes for safer lorry designs

Lorries pose a serious risk to cyclists

Euro Parliament votes for safer lorry designs

The European Parliament voted today (April 15) to change the regulations for the design of lorry cabs to make lorries safer and more fuel efficient, a move which could potentially save hundreds of lives a year.

The decision will need to be approved by the 28 EU member states before it can become law. 

CTC is asking supporters to email the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, urging him to back the change to the regulations.

The vote is a first step in a major change in lorry design to improve safety, and follows lobbying in Parliament by the campaign group See Me Save Me and the European Cyclists' Federation, of which CTC is a member. 

Lorry danger 

In the EU, 4250 people die a year in lorry-related incidents. In the UK, lorries comprise only 5% of the traffic yet are involved in 18% of cyclists’ fatalities and 15% of pedestrian fatalities. Due to the sheer size and weight of lorries, collisions between lorries and vulnerable road users (cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists) are more likely to result in fatalities than collisions with smaller vehicles.

The outdated brick-shaped design of lorry cabs creates ‘blind spots’ around the cab making drivers unable to see cyclists and pedestrians close by. This is particularly dangerous when drivers make manoeuvres, especially left-turns, which can result in the lorry cutting across the path of a cyclist (during the period 2000-2010, 55% of cyclists deaths occurred when lorries made a left-turn). HGVs present a particular threat to road users in urban areas, where they are more likely to intermix with people on foot and on bikes.

Consideration of what drivers can actually see from their high position in lorry cabs has not been factored into EU legislation, allowing the rising of the driver's position to go relatively unchecked. This has led to a reduction in the direct vision that drivers have of the space around the cab. 

Safer design

Under the proposed regulations, lorry manufacturers would be given more design space for the front end of the cab. The larger cab design would allow for bigger windscreens, thus reducing blind spots and increasing visibility.

The new cab would have a rounded shape with a 'crumple zone' to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being knocked under the wheels in the event of a collision.

Lorries would also have a slightly longer nose, which would increase fuel efficiency by improving aerodynamics.

Parliament wants these life-saving features to become mandatory for all new lorries by 2022, but lorry manufacturers are lobbying for new designs to be prohibited until 2025 to safeguard what they call ‘competitive neutrality’.

Other safety features

In addition to the introduction of bigger windscreens to reduce blind spots, CTC advocates the use of added safety devices such as sensors and alarms, side guards, and external warning signals. CTC’s policy briefing on goods vehicles, which can be downloaded from the end of this article, contains further measures that should be implemented to reduce the danger posed by lorries. 

No to megatrucks

In March, MEPs on the Transport Committee rejected the proposal to allow cross-border use of longer lorries: so-called 'megatrucks', which campaigners argued would present a serious danger to other road users by creating even bigger blind spots and larger turning angles. MEPs demanded that the Commission properly assesses the impact of longer lorries and report back to Parliament in 2016.

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