European Parliament sounds beginning of the end for brick-shaped killer trucks

New designs call for elimination of blind spots, & crumple zones

by John Stevenson   March 21, 2014  

MAN_Concept_S_1

Lorries shaped like bricks, with no safety features for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, could be a thing of the past after the European Parliament voted in new truck design rules on Tuesday.

The European Parliament’s transport committee voted to give lorry manufacturers more design space for the front end, allowing a more streamlined nose that will improve fuel efficiency and help eliminate the fatal blindspots that often result in lorries killing cyclists and pedestrians.

Removing blind spots is one of the requirements of the changes to the vehicle Weights and Dimensions Directive, which will also force truck manufacturers to include a crumple zone and to make sure pedestrians and cyclists are not knocked underneath the wheels in a collision. Manufacturers will be able to improve designs straight away but Parliament wants these life-saving features to become mandatory for all new lorries by 2022.

British Cycling’s Policy Adviser, Chris Boardman, welcomed the news. Boardman visited Brussels alongside the Mayor of London’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, in January to call for tighter EU rules on HGV safety.

He said: “This is another step towards creating an environment on the roads that accommodates the needs and safety of cyclists. Lorries are involved in almost one in five cycle fatalities in Britain and part of the problem is dangerous cab designs.

“I hope the Department for Transport moves quickly to ensure that we have more fit for purpose lorries on Britain’s roads.”

William Todts, clean vehicles officer at campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E), said: “Today is a good day for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, hauliers and the environment. This vote brings the end of the brick-shaped cab closer. It’s a key decision that will reduce road deaths and kick-start progress on lorry CO2 emissions after 20 years of stagnation.”

However, campaigners point out the the measure faces opposition from some truck manufacturers.

Thie new regulations need to be approved by the 28 EU member states before they can become law. Campaigners accuse lorry makers of lobbying for new designs to be prohibited until 2025 to safeguard what they call ‘competitive neutrality’. They also reject additional safety requirements such as improved direct vision.

“Giving lorry makers extra cab space in return for life-saving and fuel-efficient features is a no-brainer. Europe’s governments shouldn’t let vested interests trump common sense,” said William Todts concluded.

Truck makers Skania and MAN favour the new designs, but Daimler — Europe’s biggest truck maker — is opposed because it has recently introduced new trucks.

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion was one of those pushing for the new regulations.

Mr Bennion said: “Making a few small changes to lorry design will save lives by getting rid of dangerous blind spots and reducing the damage caused by collisions.

“I am glad to see that these changes were approved by MEPs after months of campaigning. However it’s a shame that my Conservative colleagues did not give these proposals their full backing.

“I will now be putting pressure on them to change their minds so we can reach a consensus before the final vote in Strasbourg next month.”

Two Conservative MEPs on the committee, Jacqueline Foster and Philip Bradbourn, abstained on the final vote, while former UKIP MEP Mike Natrass voted against. British government ministers have been accused of briefing MEPs that the move might harm British manufacturing interests.

The new regulations will not allow longer ‘megatrucks’. Austria and some environmental groups had feared that moves to standardise lorry design and introduce safer cabs would be used as a Trojan horse to bring in longer trucks.

But MEPs rejected the Commission’s proposal to allow the cross-border use of longer lorries. Instead, they demanded that the Commission properly assess the impact of wider megatruck use and report back to Parliament in 2016.

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Now we just need a mandate for collision avoidance and GPS tracking tech in all new vehicles and road safety will improve dramatically.

posted by Initialised [126 posts]
21st March 2014 - 22:03

17 Likes

Initialised wrote:
Now we just need a mandate for collision avoidance and GPS tracking tech in all new vehicles and road safety will improve dramatically.

Why not go the whole hog and put em all in slot cars with computer controlled guidance and points?

posted by drfabulous0 [359 posts]
21st March 2014 - 23:15

25 Likes

Vehicles this big should on the rails not roads. Madness.

One day a frame builder will build an absolutely hugemongous giant heavy MTB and some one like DM will ride it over one of those monster trucks back flipping onto the cab crushing it.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [332 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 1:14

24 Likes

44 ton is still 44 ton no matter how you wrap it up. Are there plans to do anything about the nob driving the new style HGV?

Chadders x

chadders's picture

posted by chadders [74 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 8:31

25 Likes

Why don't they have a system that sends an ambulance and pre orders a coffin instead? If humans are the most important part of the equation then trucks shouldn't be anywhere near cyclists and pedestrians. A 2 year old could come to that conclusion.

posted by ronin [145 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 10:09

9 Likes

How hard does a cyclist need to be hit to activate crumple zones?

posted by Nick T [816 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 12:23

10 Likes

Well its not the only answer to making the roads safer, but at least it's progress.

Jonteam

posted by teamjon [19 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 20:44

11 Likes

Is it just me or does the visibility from that cab look worse than existing designs...

posted by paulrbarnard [128 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 21:03

9 Likes

Or better education for cyclists? no thought not, it's everyone else's fault.

posted by Shep73 [137 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 12:31

6 Likes

Shep73 wrote:
Or better education for cyclists? no thought not, it's everyone else's fault.

Yes, because the burden of dealing with danger should always be placed on the vulnerable, never on those who create the danger.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [686 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 16:01

14 Likes

Initialised wrote:
Now we just need a mandate for collision avoidance and GPS tracking tech in all new vehicles and road safety will improve dramatically.

And a justice system that puts human life before money.

No chance of that while the vermin are in N° 10.

'It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning' (Henry Ford)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [224 posts]
25th March 2014 - 22:57

7 Likes

Shep73 wrote:
Or better education for cyclists? no thought not, it's everyone else's fault.

How do you suggest educating me so I'm not run over from behind, exactly?

Can't decide whether stupid or trolling or both.

posted by jacknorell [407 posts]
25th March 2014 - 23:16

7 Likes

Shep73 wrote:
Or better education for cyclists? no thought not, it's everyone else's fault.

When you put it like that, it's trolling. The simple fact is both cyclists AND drivers need educating, but drivers more-so as the statistics say that in 80% of motor/cyclist collisions, the driver is at fault.

And I've lost count of the number of times vehicles have passed by so close and at speed that if I'd have swerved to go around a pothole then I would have ended up in hospital, THOSE drivers really need educating and their reckless endangerment of life needs to be punished.

And the tailgaters and the smidsys and the smidgafs.

posted by kie7077 [497 posts]
26th March 2014 - 13:47

4 Likes

kie7077 wrote:
Shep73 wrote:
Or better education for cyclists? no thought not, it's everyone else's fault.

When you put it like that, it's trolling. The simple fact is both cyclists AND drivers need educating, but drivers more-so as the statistics say that in 80% of motor/cyclist collisions, the driver is at fault.

And I've lost count of the number of times vehicles have passed by so close and at speed that if I'd have swerved to go around a pothole then I would have ended up in hospital, THOSE drivers really need educating and their reckless endangerment of life needs to be punished.

And the tailgaters and the smidsys and the smidgafs.

No. This is the error that everyone makes (and I mean no disrespect here). They think that tailgaters, SMIDSYs and punishment passes are the result of a lack of education.

It isn't. It is a manifestion of malice.

Until the powers-that-be (and the rest of us) internalize that fact, then we are going to be reading a lot of stories of cyclists killed 'because the sun was too low', or 'because I thought I'd only clipped him with my wing mirror'. And each and every time, the killer is going to walk out of court a free man or woman, and only tell the truth to his mates when he's had a skinful down at the Dog & Swan.

Please, let us try to get this, once and for all: the very act of owning a motor car is (except for rare cases where physical disability or considerable distance from other modes of transport is a factor) is a prima facie selfish act. One cannot and should not expect people who put their own comfort before anything else, to act in a 'nice' manner.

There are already offences of strict liability such as driving whilst intoxicated, contempt of court etc. It is time that inflicting injury on another person whilst at the control of a motor vehicle, joined that list.

Injure or kill a person at the wheel of a car, and you should be considered to have done so voluntarily. The mens rea for this should be considered as complete unless rebutted by the defence.

'It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning' (Henry Ford)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [224 posts]
26th March 2014 - 14:33

5 Likes