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Cities add a collective voice to call for safer trucks

Cities add a collective voice to call for safer trucks

Direct vision will hopefully become the standard for heavy vehicles on European streets and roads

9 major European cities, among which London, Berlin and Paris, have signed a collective open letter addressed to each of their respective national governments and urging them to show a unified and progressive stance at the upcoming UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) session which will seek to implement unified standards for truck manufacturing in order to make these vehicles safer for pedestrians and cyclists on the roads.

This was inspired by the recently introduced Direct Vision Standard, which from 1 March this year, requires heavy trucks (or HGVs) in London to display a permit which attests that they are equipped in a way that allows their drivers to see a person’s head and shoulders from at least 2 metres in front of the cabin, and 4.5 metres to the sides.

Did you know that 3300 people lost their lives in traffic incidents involving trucks in 2018?

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, described the new legislation as a pioneering example on a global scale, expressing the hope that it would serve as an inspiration to other cities. Clearly, this has been the case as Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Lisbon, Valencia, Malmo, Copenhagen and Osnabrück have also decided to support this initiative and give a voice of support to their national government representatives.

For this purpose, they co-signed a letter together with Eurocities and the Polis Network, two urban associations which represent the interests of European cities in their efforts to promote innovations and integrations.

The letter reported that although trucks make up only 2% of the vehicle fleet on the continent, they were responsible directly or indirectly for 15% of fatalities on the roads. Such statistics were a clear signal for the need to act fast and create a legislative momentum that would involve institutions and truck makers to update the technology and design of vehicles in order to allow for better direct visibility.

In general, truck designs have changed very little since the 1970s and their drivers have to rely on mirrors and cameras in order to see other road participants. However, that only leads to technological sensory overload without a clear improvement to safety. Studies have shown that wider front and side window-shields would allow better direct visibility, which in turn would let drivers react faster and prevent heavy accidents.

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