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MEPs vote overwhelmingly in favour of safer lorries

Rounder cabs to reduce severity of injuries, improve driver visibility and reduce blind spots

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted through legislation aimed at making lorries safer around cyclists and pedestrians, although it may be several years until any changes come into effect at national level. Some 606 MEPs voted for the proposals, with just 54 voting against them and 12 abstentions.

They also rejected plans to make it easier for heavier and longer lorries, known as "mega trucks," to operate across national borders within the European Union, reports the website EurActiv.

News of the vote yesterday has been welcomed by cycling organisations and road safety campaigners both in the UK and across the continent, who have urged member states to embrace the law in full.

New rules on lorry design will see current limits on the length of lorries be relaxed, provided that makers of the vehicles build more aerodynamic cabs that have larger windows to the front and side, increasing the driver’s field of vision and reducing blind spots.

The current “brick-shaped” cab of a typical lorry results from current rules governing the weight and length of such vehicles, with manufacturers adopting that design because it allows for more space for freight behind.

New vehicles, such as the concept from Man pictured above, would also have a crumple zone and a rounder front, which is said to reduce the severity of injuries to vulnerable road users, partly because the design means a cyclist or pedestrian involved in a collision is deflected away from the lorry rather than being dragged beneath it.

British road safety campaigners including See Me Save Me, set up by Kate Cairns after her sister Eilidh was killed by a lorry at Notting Hill Gate in London in February 2009 and now co-ordinated by RoadPeace, has been among organisations lobbying for the new rules.

Among MEPs who pushed for the changes was the West Midlands Liberal Democrat Phil Bennion, who said: “Today's huge majority for change is a victory for all the campaigners who have worked so hard to bring about these life-saving changes to lorry design.

"This vote shows that when individuals engage with MEPs and the European Parliament, they can affect the outcome and bring about positive change,” he added.

While it will be up to individual member states to implement the legislation, the design could become mandatory for new vehicles throughout the European Union (EU) by 2022.

MEPs will now liaise with the Council of Europe, which represents the member states, about the implementation of the revised directive, including the timescale.

Jeannot Mersch, president of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims, urged national governments not to waste time in putting the new rules into effect, according to a Press Association report on

He said: "With today's vote the European Parliament has taken citizens' safety to heart. Thousands of lives are sadly lost and many more victims are severely injured in lorry crashes every year.

"Rounded, streamlined lorry cabs could help avoid hundreds of these deaths and injuries. The EU governments have a moral obligation to embrace this hugely beneficial decision. Weakening, delaying or blocking this decision would be unforgivable."

The European Cyclists’ Federation also urged national governments to embrace the legislation.

Its road safety policy advisor, Ceri Woolsgrove, said:“This is an excellent opportunity to make lorries safer, especially with regards to direct vision, in other words what the driver can actually see around the cab.

“We call upon the member states in the Council to back this approach by the European Parliament to make these relatively dangerous vehicles safer for those it shares the roads with.”

Among others welcoming the news was London’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan. Lorries make up 4 per cent of the city’s traffic, but are involved in around half of all cyclist fatalities there.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels in January, he said that Mayor of London Boris Johnson had expressed his concern to the government and transport minister Stephen Hammond about its opposition to the new rules because it wants to curb the impact on the UK of regulations emanating from the EU, EurActiv reported at the time.

Following yesterday’s vote, he said: "Inadequate HGV designs are a major factor in the deaths and injuries of pedestrians and cyclists.

"This is a very important day for cyclists and pedestrians across Europe and I'm glad that we have been able to play a part in bringing it about."

British Cycling's policy adviser, Chris Boardman, added: "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.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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spen | 10 years ago

It looks a lot like a truck that appeared in The Island

K Stand Ken | 10 years ago

All the vehicle safety legislation in the world will not make a scrap of difference unless ALL drivers can be forced to have some regard for; and even CARE about the life and limbs of non-motorized traffic.  102

fancynancy | 10 years ago

That thing would scare the life out of me if it came roaring up behind me!  13

SteppenHerring | 10 years ago

The HGV as pictured doesn't look that safe with the high cab and tinted windows. Please tell me this is an accidental promotional shot from an upcoming sci-fi blockbuster and not an actual design.

Initialised | 10 years ago

About time, but... how about enforcing collision avoidance systems, gps tracking and black boxes in all new vehicles?

Matt_Z | 10 years ago

he's busy spending the money he gets as an MEP on a non-existent office. Getting it for free and complaining about it... more like farage with the machine.  4 Enough about politics and more about Safe lorries now.

allez neg | 10 years ago

Farage against the machine?

themartincox | 10 years ago



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