A Loughborough Design School (LDS) project that accurately measures an HGV driver’s blind spot is up for one of the university’s Enterprise Awards. The work gave rise to the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) which will see the more dangerous trucks banned from London’s roads and which has also recently been adopted by the EU.
Research shows that between 2015 and 2017, HGVs were disproportionately involved in fatal collisions with cyclists (63 per cent) and pedestrians (25 per cent) on London’s streets, despite accounting for just four per cent of the miles driven in the capital.
In 2015, LDS had looked into this and not entirely surprisingly discovered that the vehicles’ significant blind spots were a major contributory factor.
The team subsequently developed a digital technique to measure how much a driver can see through a given vehicle’s windows.
Dr Steve Summerskill, a senior lecturer who worked on the project, says that a surprising outcome of this research was that while there are a number of design variables which can affect the size of a truck’s blind spot, none of them were controlled in any way.
As a result of this, LDS’s work was used to develop the DVS and in 2016, the Mayor of London announced the Vision Zero approach. Under these new regulations, any vehicle not meeting the minimum DVS requirement will be banned from London, unless it is fitted with approved safety technology systems.
The LDS team assessed 52 vehicle specifications (over 98 per cent of truck designs) and found that half failed to meet the minimum DVS requirements as they featured significant blind spots that hid vulnerable road users from the driver’s view.
In February 2019, the European Parliament accepted an amendment to the General Safety Regulation which includes the need for improved direct vision for trucks. All vehicles will have to meet a minimum DVS by 2028.
An EU impact assessment showed that this change would save an estimated 550 lives a year.
The ‘impact’ category of Loughborough’s Enterprise Awards recognises external partnerships that deliver far-reaching social, economic and cultural impact. You can vote for LDS’s direct vision work here.