A disgraceful and retrograde decision was made yesterday in Brussels regarding modification to HGV cab design to make these dangerous vehicles safer for cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas.
Last night’s negotiations between the Council, Parliament and Commission concluded that safety and environmental design changes to the front of the lorry cab will not be possible before 2022.
Cyclist.ie has been calling for major changes to cab design for decades so as to eliminate the extensive blind-zones around the driver’s field of view from the cab . These are not ‘blind-spots’ as they are euphemistically called by those who should know better. Our colleagues in the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) did their best in Brussels to compel truck manufacturers to begin making the necessary cab visibility modifications with no more prevarication.
The box/brick like shape that we currently see at the moment with a driver perched high on top of an engine is the result of the current regulations that restricts the size of the lorry, this gives around 2.35m to the cabs. The restriction of space means that engine, cooling system, driver living space, and safety considerations have all been competing for limited space. ECF has argued that driver direct vision, and a more forgiving impact shape have lost out in these competing areas, meaning that lorries are the most dangerous vehicles on the roads, particularly in urban areas.
The European Transport Safety Council estimate that around 4,200 deaths each year are as a result of collisions with lorries, and that almost a quarter of cycling fatalities are as a result of collision with larger freight vehicles; this despite only constituting around 3% of the EU vehicle fleet. ECF Road safety policy officer Ceri Woolsgrove said that “This was an excellent opportunity for the industry to show commitment to improving their product safety record in urban areas. An immediate change in lorry design could prevent around 900 deaths per year; unfortunately the delay in safer lorry design will cost lives.”
Knowing that these rigs are the main maimers and killers of cyclists we call on local authorities in Ireland to introduce HGV movement control by means of permits just like Dublin City has been operating for years. These recalcitrant local authorities need to reflect on the Road Act, 1993 and the requirement that road authorities consider the needs of ALL road users. Cyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable road users who need this protection.
The HSA needs to do more to compel operators and drivers of these vehicles to undertake the mandatory risk assessments required under safety legislation when these vehicles are being driven for work.
The RSA’s CPC system for drivers of these rigs needs to ensure that there is a mandatory module dealing with vulnerable road user interaction as part of what ADIs are teaching these drivers.