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How to prevent the 3 most common causes of HGV accidents

Posted on 22nd May, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

lorries on motorway

Despite making up only a relatively small proportion of road traffic, HGVs are regularly involved in some of the most serious accidents on Britain’s roads. And although there are certain accidents which will always be unavoidable, happily for fleet managers and the drivers themselves, there are some excellent precautions they can take to cut down on the likelihood and severity of road accidents. This week on the blog, we’re looking at three of the most common causes of HGV accidents, and how what you can do to prevent them.

1. Lack of visibility

We’re kicking off our list with one of the most obvious causes. Many accidents involving HGVs come down to simple lack of visibility. The height of the cab from the ground results in a corresponding increase in the HGV’s blind spot – which is one of the reasons that smaller, more vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists can frequently be in more danger than car drivers. In 2015 alone, there were 377 collisions reported with cyclists – almost a third of whom were seriously injured or killed.

cyclist in city

How you can prevent it

Naturally, some responsibility will always rest with the driver in ensuring they’re constantly aware and vigilant of their surroundings. However, here at Vision Techniques we have a range of cyclist safety products that can make this task easier – including TurnAware, a video analytics system that provides drivers with enhanced visibility to monitor their surroundings, helping them to avoid potential collisions.

2. Driver incapacitation

For many HGV drivers, there is an ongoing issue with the industry regarding the importance of proper breaks. The majority of drivers will be familiar with the idea of driving for exceptionally long distances each day, but those working for certain less reputable firms may well find themselves doing this frequently without proper breaks or periods of rest. This can result in an increased chance of falling asleep at the wheel, which can have potentially fatal consequences.

Even if drivers are taking their appropriate periods of rest, there’s still the possibility that they can become incapacitated in other ways, either due to illness or a pre-existing medical condition (such as an epileptic fit). Once again, if this happens as they’re driving, it could result in a catastrophe.

driver at wheel

How you can prevent it

In preventative terms, it’s often up to employers to assigned periods of dedicated rest to HGV drivers, and ensure that they’re taking them. Meanwhile, to minimise the risks posed by drivers becoming incapacitated, fleet managers can install our patented StopSafe system in the cabs of their vehicles. When a driver becomes incapacitated, StopSafe uses a large, easily accessible red button to give crew the opportunity to bring the vehicle to a halt in a safe, controlled manner.

3. Human error

To some extent, human error will always be a sadly unavoidable aspect of life on the road. Leaving aside the issue of negligent driving, it’s not unheard of for HGV drivers to misjudge, for example, the braking distance of their vehicles. Sudden or improper braking can lock the wheels, potentially leading to a jack-knifing scenario. In many instances, proper training and careful vehicle maintenance is the best way to preventatively account for these circumstances.

handbrake

One of the most common instances of human error we see here at Vision Techniques, however, involve drivers failing to properly apply the handbrake. In fact, it’s such a frequent occurrence that we’ve developed our own technology specifically designed to tackle this danger.

How you can prevent it

The technology in question is our Brakesafe system, which essentially automatically applies the handbrake if the driver forgets. It will also sound an audible alarm, alerting the driver to the risk. This can help prevent incredibly dangerous ‘rollaways’, involving vehicles parked on hills.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of the most common causes of HGV accidents, but investing in these technologies for your fleet can give you a tangible advantage in heading off some of the major risks. You can click here to browse our full range of vehicle safety products, or give us a call on 08455 911 434.

Essential Safety Checks for HGV Drivers

Posted on 20th Apr, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

daily hgv checks

How often do you hear the horn? It’s a common refrain amongst some fleet operators, and actually refers to how often they witness their HGV drivers do their daily checks. Since a short, sharp burst of the horn makes up a vital part of those checks, it’s an easy way to tell that drivers are regularly carrying them out. Most firms argue that it wouldn’t be realistic to perform a full, exhaustive check each and every morning, on every single vehicle. We think that’s a fair case here at Vision Techniques, but at the same time we’d say that thorough, in-depth checks do still need to be made on a regular basis. This week, we’ll be talking about what those in-depth checks should include.

In-Cab Checks

At a glance:

  • Windows and mirrors
  • Reversing cameras
  • Windscreen washer, wipers, demister
  • Driving controls, seat and seatbelt
  • Horn
  • Tachograph
  • Speed limiter
  • Instruments, gauges and warning lights
  • Air leaks or pressure drops

Full details:

Obviously, visibility is absolute cornerstone of excellent vehicle safety, so checking that the windows are clear, mirrors and unobstructed and reversing cameras are functioning should all be amongst your top priorities. In fact, this is an excellent time to ensure the smooth operation of all of your vehicle safety equipment inside the cab, including any reversing radars or on-board CCTV. Windscreen washers, wipers and demisters are all integral to making sure your vision stays continually clear, so they should be next on the list.

hgv windscreen

Once that’s done, you need to make sure that you’re comfortable at the driver’s controls, and that the seatbelt especially is adjusted correctly. Then give your horn a quick blast to make sure that it’s in sufficient working order – you may have to make surrounding colleagues aware first.

Next, your tachograph needs to be calibrated with the correct hours, with your speed-limiter plaque displayed. This is vital for warning motorists about the cap on your vehicle’s speed, ensuring that they treat you accordingly on the road. Finally, ensure that all your instruments and warning devices are operating correctly – this includes systems like Stopsafe and Brakesafe, both of which can be instrumental in preventing accidents. Your ABS and EBS warning lights will also need to be on this list.

External Vehicle Checks

At a glance:

  • Vehicle is sitting stable
  • Vehicle access (steps, catwalk)
  • Drawbar
  • Bodywork – wings, guards, sides and rear
  • Curtains and straps
  • Tail-lift
  • Wheels, tyres and treads
  • Fifth wheel
  • Steering and brakes
  • Trailer park brake
  • Air and electrical suzies (including ABS/EBs cables)
  • Lights, markings and reflectors
  • Exhaust
  • Engine, oil, water levels and fuel reservoir

Full details:

This first check is an essential one, however straightforward it may seem – you need to ensure that the HGV is square and upright, not tilting to one side. We probably don’t need to tell you why it would be so dangerous otherwise! From there, ensure that all methods of entering, exiting and working around the vehicle are stable and safe, and that the drawbar is sturdy, in good condition and properly attached to the trailer.

curtain check

The next step is to check the vehicle bodywork, to ensure nothing is liable to crumple, bend or even fall away. Then turn your attention to the cargo elements; the curtains need to be intact and the straps fully capable of holding the weight they’re designed to. Similarly, the tail lift needs to be in absolutely perfect working condition, as anything less could expose yourself or employees to incredible danger.

The wheels and traction need to be inspected like any other car, with tyres at a good inflation and tread depth. Make sure you know the location of the fifth wheel, and that the landing legs and handle are in the correct position. Similarly, the steering and brakes (including the trailer park brake) should operate and engage without issue. Your air suspension also needs to be correctly set, to prevent any unpleasant surprises while out on the road.

All air and electrical brakes suzies should be inspected to guarantee that they’re also fitted correctly. This includes the ABS/EBS cable – after all, if that isn’t operating as required then it renders much of their safety purposes completely null! Any lights, reflectors and markings should be thoroughly inspected to ensure that they’re clean and visible at the distances they need to be. Unless drivers can see them in time, they’re completely pointless. If an accident occurs because of this, it could potentially expose your company to litigation if the worst should happen (not to mention the physical risk it poses to other drivers).

The exhaust also needs to be checked to ensure that there is no excess noise or smoke which might be indicative of any problems, serious or otherwise. Just as normal cars, engine oil levels, windscreen washer reservoirs and water all need to be checked – take care to look for any signs of ruptures or leaks!

Before Setting Off

rear of hgv

Most drivers will do this anyway, but your load needs to be properly secured, with the weight distributed evenly before you set off. Finally, with the tachograph, speedometer and speed limiter all in perfect working order, and with all displays fully operational inside the cab, you’re ready to go. Don’t forget to turn your ABS/EBS warning lights off!

It looks a lot when explained fully, but a quick daily walkaround check will often be more than sufficient to satisfy many of the safety requirements, and even new drivers will quickly become adept on the most efficient ways to do so. Here at Vision Techniques, your safety is our priority. Products like our StopSafe system have been specifically designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents should anything fail with your vehicle – even if drivers themselves become incapacitated at the wheel. You can click here to find out more about StopSafe, or alternatively explore the benefits of our VT Banksman Reversing Radar.

How Our Vehicle Safety Products Help Emergency Services

Posted on 27th Mar, 2018 by Jack Stocker

ambulance responding

The emergency services are amongst a wide range of industries that we serve here at Vision Techniques, and we’re happy to say that many of our products are universally useful in a variety of emergency situations. For the purposes of brevity we’ve summed up just a few of them in this post, categorising them in terms of how they enhance safety, security and effectiveness.

1. Safety

Using various devices such as vehicle cameras, emergency vehicles like fire engines and ambulances can effectively extend their ranges of visibility. Their roles require them to reach occasionally awkward locations quickly and discreetly, which means that drivers need to have exceptional awareness of the clearances of their vehicles. Ambulances, for example, will always need to park as close as they feasibly can to the casualty, whereas fire engines need to be well within range of the building to effectively fight the fire. Once the emergency is dealt with, reversing cameras and alarms can help them prevent accidents when they’re emerging out of these tight spots, alerting them to nearby passing pedestrians.

emergency ambulance parked up

2. Security

Though it’s not always a common occurrence, emergency vehicles can sometimes be targets for thieves or vandals. For this VT Ident, our Radio Frequency Identification system, is ideal for preventing unauthorised access, helping to guarantee the security of the vehicle. Just as few of the consequences of unauthorised access could involve (in the majority of cases) the theft of expensive or sensitive equipment, or even vandalism. In cases where the vehicle is actually stolen, thieves could speed across public highways with impunity, or write the emergency vehicles off entirely – which could be both costly for the service in addition to being incredibly dangerous.

3. Effectiveness

In addition to helping serve the security purposes we’ve just covered, mobile CCTV in particular is an exceptionally helpful measure for helping many emergency services perform their jobs to a highly effective degree. As we’ve mentioned, it can help drivers maintain unparalleled awareness of the clearances of their vehicle, and for enforcement organisations (like the police), it can actively record instances of dangerous driving or similar crimes in progress, providing valuable evidence for convictions.

police car driving

Similarly, it helps to ensure that there are no false claims made against the public servants themselves, protecting them from counter-accusations from criminals or even (in extreme cases) crash for cash schemes. When used in concert with these, fleet tracking and GPS tracking software is also a must for many emergency services, as it can help pinpoint the exact distance of individual vehicles from their destination.

This isn’t necessarily comprehensive, but should serve to give you just an idea of how our vehicle safety products can assist the emergency services. If you have any specific questions or if you’d like to place an order, don’t forget that you can always give our sales team a call on 08452 873 170, or for more details you can check our emergency services industry page.

How To Plan For The Dangers Of Driving HGVs In High Winds

Posted on 26th Mar, 2018 by Jack Stocker

lorry in rain and high winds

HGV drivers are often expected to drive in all weather conditions, day or night, which means that many are well-practised at dealing with inclement weather conditions including rain, fog or even snow. However, high winds can also bring their own dangers for HGV drivers, and they’re even risks that can sometimes be underestimated by fleet operators. Since safety is our business here at Vision Techniques, we thought it worth taking a look in a little bit more detail about what’s involved, and which of our vehicle safety products can help.

What Does The Law Say About Driving In High Winds?

At the moment, there aren’t any explicit laws governing when HGV drivers can operate in extreme winds – this is left to the discretion of fleet operators themselves, falling under their legal obligation to protect the wellbeing of their employees. This means that driving lorries in high winds is known as a point of contention for some HGV drivers, who are often subject to pressure from their employers.

On the whole, they say, larger or national companies are generally responsible on making these sorts of judgements. Smaller companies, on the other hand, are often more willing to take the risks for the sake of making their deliveries on time. This is part of why there have been calls for the government to ban driving Heavy Goods Vehicles and other high profile vehicles in extremely windy conditions. Their high profile means that they are more vulnerable to potentially being blown over, causing damage to cargo but – more importantly – posing a serious risk to life. Even if winds aren’t quite high enough for that to happen, there is still the fact that HGVs consume far more fuel under these conditions, which is often a vital consideration for fleet operators.

What Fleet Operators Can Do To Mitigate These Dangers

fleet operators doing logistics

There are a number of measures that fleet operators can take to safeguard the wellbeing of their drivers, cargo, and other motorists. These include:

  • Using fleet tracking software to plan the journey of their drivers, avoiding roads that are high up or exposed (such as bridges or flyovers)
  • Similarly, make sure that this planned journey accounts for lower speed limits, lane closures or potential diversions
  • Make sure that drivers are aware and alert for all the ways that such conditions could affect other road users – particularly smaller, lighter or more vulnerable ones such as cyclists or motorcyclists
  • Empty, curtain-sided vehicles should have their curtains tied at one end to reduce the effect of side winds.
  • Consider how the winds might have an effect on the fuel consumption of the HGVs in question

Finally, it’s also wise to look at safety devices such as VT StopSafe or VT BrakeSafe, both of which can be instrumental for mitigating dangers posed by extreme weather. If drivers lose control of their vehicle, for example, or become incapacitated at the wheel, our very own vehicle safety product StopSafe can help the crew to being the vehicle to a safe halt without danger of the lorry jack-knifing on a windy highway. Meanwhile, BrakeSafe provides an extra layer of security for HGVs parked on hills or inclines.

Browse our full range of vehicle safety products here, or if you’d like to make an enquiry, you can always give us a call on 08452 873 155.

Vision Techniques increases focus on the quarrying and construction industries

Posted on 19th Mar, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

Blackburn based vehicle safety company increases focus within the quarrying and construction industries to improve the safety for the workforce, following the appointment of industry proven specialist Lee Taylor (pictured right).

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How Fleet Managers Help To Keep HGV Drivers Safe

Posted on 1st Mar, 2018 by Jack Stocker

hgv driver

The welfare of the vehicles and freight itself is naturally one of the biggest priorities of typical fleet operators – but equally crucial is the welfare of the drivers themselves, who are often subject to unique stressors that can have a severe impact if left unchecked. This week we’re looking at some of the most important ways to protect HGV drivers, as well as how Vision Techniques products can help.

Restricting Time Spent Driving

This issue is well known as one of the most widespread problems facing the haulage industry in particular. Drivers are often subject to tight deadlines (or even paid on commission), and many are known to work particularly long hours on the road in order to meet them. It’s such a well known problem that there are a series of laws that govern the appropriate amount of rest drivers should take. These include:

  • At least 45 minutes of rest for every four and a half hours of driving
  • Only nine hours of driving is permissible per day, extendable to 10 hours no more than twice a week
  • A maximum of 56 hours of driving per week, and 90 in any fortnight
  • Minimum of 11 hours daily rest

hgv driver at work

Though there is little solid data available about how much these rules are adhered to, it’s arguably accurate to say there is a sizeable proportion of drivers who ignore them. It’s up to fleet operators to ensure that drivers are taking their prescribed breaks, as tiredness can easily lead to accidents. Our fleet tracking software is ideal for this sort of application, allowing operators to see where the vehicle is at all times and where and when it’s parked up.

Limits On Maximum Speed

This is arguably as much for the protection of other motorists as it is for HGV drivers themselves, but it still serves as an effective protective measure. Putting limits on the speed that HGVs are permitted to achieve discourages drivers from taking risks, or ‘seizing gaps’ in traffic that might put themselves or others at risk. It also allows emergency measures like StopSafe to take effect that much faster if the driver becomes incapacitated (e.g. by falling asleep at the wheel), thereby preventing collisions that might lead to injury or death.

HGVs Can Be Deliberately Targeted By Other Drivers

Not all threats to drivers are physical – they can be financial and legal, as well. Though an uncommon occurrence, some drivers have been known to target HGVs because of their slow-moving nature. These drivers can then induce crashes, either out of spite – such as this case involving careless driving in Scotland – or in Crash for Cash schemes. In order to protect against these, it’s wise for fleet operators to invest in in-vehicle recording software so that drivers can be easily exonerated in such circumstances, saving them from personal legal repercussions and the fleet operator from significant financial costs (in addition to the repairs of the vehicle in question).

Here at Vision Techniques, we are passionate about the safety of all road users, whether HGV drivers, other motorists or cyclists. You can browse our full range of vehicle safety products here, or for any enquiries give our sales team a call on 08455 643 337.

The 4 Key Advantages Of VT Banksman

Posted on 21st Feb, 2018 by Jack Stocker

vt banksman vehicle reversing radar

VT Banksman is one of our flagship products here at Vision Techniques, and one that’s consistently highly rated by many of our customers. It’s an intelligent, programmable reversing radar for HGVs, using proximity sensors to detect dangers and obstacles and warning the driver. It’s a simple design philosophy with a flawless design execution, and one that offers a number of tangible benefits, including several over using a human banksman. We’ve listed just a couple below!

1. It Makes Life Easier For Drivers

Reversing in an HGV is a notoriously difficult task, as the bulk of the vehicle makes it incredibly difficult for the driver to see what he’s doing. It can be tricky enough even when conditions are ideal, and that’s not to mention all the complicating factors that can possibly occur, such as badly positioned mirrors or high-traffic areas. Certain conditions – like noise-intensive or poorly-lit environments – can also make it difficult for drivers to see or communicate with their banksman, which can quickly lead to accidents. VT Banksman eliminates these dangers by design, making it a far less dangerous and stressful task for drivers.

banksman with reversing hgv

2. It Reduces The Risk Of Damage

Poor visibility and crowded environments can result in collisions with surrounding obstacles, which might leave serious damage – either to the obstacle itself or the HGV in question. Either way, it can mean sizeable costs for the fleet operators, and occasionally for the driver in question. VT Banksman can easily detect stationary objects, helping drivers to manoeuvre round them and in turn help save fleet operators a lot of money and hassle.

3. Prevents Physical Risk To Human Safety

Apart from material damage to objects and vehicles, another of the most important advantages for VT Banksman is heading off the risk for human banksmen. It’s a notoriously risky job – almost 25% of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur as a result of reversing, and much of this demographic is sadly made up of employees carrying out their banksmen duties. It’s partially for this reason that many companies actually specifically ban the use of banksmen, in order to prevent harm from coming to their employees. VT Banksman takes care of this dangerous job instead, allowing employers and fleet operators peace of mind when it comes to their work environment.

4. Reduces Physical Risk To The Public

pedestrian warning on hgv

This is particular concern for fleet operators working in the public sector, such as local councils and municipal services. Unlike professionals, pedestrians and members of the general public are not always as wary or respectful of HGVs as they should be – a typical example would be someone crossing the road without looking up from their phone, which can bring them into the radius of a reversing vehicle. Similarly, domestic pets like dogs and cats can run out into the road as the vehicle is manoeuvring into a parking space, which can have tragic consequences. VT Banksman can detect these intrusions easily and inform the driver immediately and clearly – which isn’t always possible with merely a shouted word from a human banksman.

These are just a couple of the major advantages that VT Banksman can offer drivers and fleet operators, and this post is intended to simply provide an overview. You can visit the relevant product page on our site to find out the full capabilities of VT Banksman, or give our sales team a call on 08452 875 637 if you’d like to make a direct enquiry.

Stolen Keys Are The Single Biggest Cause of HGV Thefts

Posted on 2nd Feb, 2018 by Jack Stocker

hgv being stolen

Vehicle theft is always a concern for any driver, but it’s a particular threat for HGVs. Not only are there the associated financial costs and disruptions to business, but as we’ve sadly seen in the headlines in the past few years, stolen HGVs can pose a significant threat to human life, whether driven recklessly or maliciously. Perhaps the most important aspect of the issue, however, is that the vast majority of these crimes are committed through the theft of keys – which is exactly the sort of problem that our VT IDent is designed to prevent.

Protect Your HGV From Thieves

car keys

Estimates vary as to how much freight crime costs the UK freight industry ever year, but it’s generally agreed to be at least £250 million a year. Some estimates even range to as much as four times that amount, as the £250m figure is only derived from crimes that are reported and therefore on record; the actual amount is most likely significantly higher. And naturally, apart from its impact on the economy, it can have a detrimental effect on your company operations and finances.

The goods that HGVs contain often make them particularly lucrative targets for thieves; the average loss of any given HGV theft is often in excess of £250,000. While this number may initially seem dramatic, it’s worth remembering that freight crime is broadly the same as many other types in that the majority of thieves are opportunists. Official statistics show in recent years that the involvement of key thefts as factor in freight crime – and motor theft as a whole – has been steadily rising. For example, key thefts were the cause of just 15% of vehicle crime in March 2006, whereas by 2015 that figure had risen to 43%. The signal is clear; by securing your keys, you can automatically thwart the vast majority of attempted thieves. At Vision Techniques, we’ve developed our own solution to help you do exactly that.

How VT IDent Protects You

vision techniques vt ident

VT IDent is a custom solution built in-house by our very own vehicle security experts. It’s a control system that uses programmable authorisation tags to manage access to your company vehicles, preventing unrecognised users from damaging or stealing your HGVs. This means that even if the would-be thief somehow obtains the keys, they will still be unable to drive the HGV away unless they also have access to the corresponding access tag.

With VT IDent, you can even distinguish between different levels of authorisation, so you’re not only locking out intruders, but also ensuring that each of your own employees only has access to the systems that pertain to their jobs. This provides further peace of mind for you, as it provides an extra layer of security between advanced or potentially dangerous systems and the employees who are not trained to use them.

You can click here to find out more about VT IDent, including its full list of features and advantages. If you have any specific questions, don’t forget you can always ask a member of our friendly sales team on 08458 684 858 or email us at info@visiontechniques.com.

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Flogas becomes first gas supplier with Runaway Prevention

Posted on 25th Jan, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

Flogas Fleet Manager Steve Moir and Vision Techniques Sales Manager Steve Smith with the first BrakeSafe installed tanker.

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How StopSafe Helps Cut Down On Accidents In Winter Weather

Posted on 20th Jan, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

how stopsafe helps cut down on accidents in winter weather feature image

Winter driving conditions aren’t exactly hotly anticipated by any average driver, but they can create especially potent risks for HGVs. The size and weight of HGVs means that they can pose significant dangers to drivers even in the best of weather, but these dangers are amplified in the winter due to conditions such as low visibility and exceptionally slippery roads. However, here at Vision Techniques, we’re pleased to be able to say that one of our flagship products, StopSafe can help to mitigate these dangers. Below, we’ll explain exactly how.

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