15.04.13 – Could new legislation mean safer lorries for cyclists in the near future?
The size and dimensions of lorries are to be updated . ECF wants to make sure they will be safer for cyclists.
Today the Commission proposed new rules updating the Weights and Dimensions legislation for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and trucks that cross the borders of Europe; in effect controlling the shape and size of all HGVs manufactured for Europe.
Current regulations limit the design of HGVs, particularly the cab design, to the square ‘brick’ shape that we are now used to seeing throughout the EU. The proposal will be looking to allow extra length at the front of the cabs to increase aerodynamic properties of HGVs; however it will also mean that the cabs can be designed with a great deal more safety in mind.
HGVs make up 3% of the European vehicle fleet and 7% of driven kilometres, yet they are involved in 18% of fatal accidents, costing over 7000 lives across the EU in 2008. This figure rose to 22% for average figures between the years 2008-2010 (i). HGV fatalities involving cyclist are more likely to result in serious injury or death than collisions with other vehicles. Cyclists are often caught in the blind spot of HGVs leading to many right-turn (left in Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the UK) blind spot crashes.
A change in dimensions and better design would allow the reduction of this blind spot and better direct vision. The increased deflection of a rounded nose would also mean that cyclists and pedestrians would be pushed away from the wheels, often the major cause in serious injury or fatality. The new proposal could, claim the Commission, help save 300-500 European lives each year, particularly cyclists and pedestrians.
Ceri Woolsgrove ECF Road Safety Officer says: “This is a great opportunity to make HGVs on our roads safer, as well as being more aerodynamic and environmentally friendly. These v
ehicles are disproportionately more dangerous than any other vehicle on our roads. We need to get this crude, basic design updated.”
However there is also concern with the proposal. It will not only be looking at the front of the cabs but also could allow trucks with larger trailers across EU borders. The legislation was initially intended to keep larger HGVs within national borders but has since been interpreted by some Member States to allow cross border use. Contrary to the spirit of the original legislation, the new proposal seems to allow this cross border use. If this were to be accepted it would be a backward step for both safety and the environment.
“We cannot see how larger HGV trailers would lead to safer road conditions for cyclists, nor indeed any European road user.” said Ceri Woolsgrove.
Notes to the Editor
- We have prepared a brief study looking at the possible positive changes to the cabs here http://www.ecf.com/wp-content/uploads/ECF-Cab-design-report_201112.pdf
- And here is the link to our report on megatrucks http://www.ecf.com/wp-content/uploads/Megatrucks-safety-paper_ECF_tem.pdf
- (i) Here is the EU Commission press release http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-328_en.htm?locale=en
About the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF)
With over 70 members across nearly 40 countries, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) unites cyclist’ associations from across the globe, giving them a voice on the international level. Our aim is to get more people cycling more often by influencing policy in favour of cycling.
- ECF Policy Officer on Road safety Ceri Woolsgrove firstname.lastname@example.org or +3225880021
- ECF Communications Officer Chloé Mispelon email@example.com or +3228809281