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Category Archives: Vehicle safety technology

What is National Road Victim Month all about?

Posted on 15th Aug, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

road victim

You might think you can guess the purpose of National Road Victim Month just from the name. Many would say it’s just about taking a moment to appreciate all the people who’ve been injured or killed in road traffic accidents. And while that’s great, that’s only one part of it. National Road Victim Month was created not just for remembrance, but also for action in the name of these victims, and taking steps to ensure that we stop as many others as we can from suffering the same tragic circumstances.

August is the single most dangerous time of year on the roads

National Road Victim Month is an initiative of Roadpeace, a leading road accident charity here in the UK. They’ve observed the month in August of every year since 1998, when Princess Diana was famously killed in a horrible traffic accident. The purposes of the initiative is to honour and remember those injured or killed in similar circumstances, as well as to highlight the devastating, lifelong impact of such crashes.

A key reason why August was chosen is because it sees the highest number of deaths on British roads. Why is August so deadly? Well, we highlighted a number of reasons about summer in general in last week’s post about why extra visibility is important in summer. In addition to that, though, lots of the other key reasons can be traced back to one thing: holidays.

Here are just a few reasons why so many road crashes happen in August:

  • More people are on the road heading to airports or holiday destinations
  • Many drivers are more stressed or distracted than usual (whether by other drivers, or children in the car)
  • Some drivers are more likely to be travelling on unfamiliar roads on the way to their holidays
  • As we outlined last week, more children are often playing near roads because of the school holidays

hgv in summer

Why National Road Victim Month matters to us here at Vision Techniques

Prevention is a key aspect of the campaign, as Roadpeace seeks to make the general public more aware of how they can stop similar accidents from happening in future. That aim aligns exactly with ours here at Vision Techniques, as the majority of our road safety products are specifically designed with this goal in mind. For example:

Our StopSafe system protects both drivers and other road users

We designed our StopSafe system to give crews of HGVs the ability to stop the vehicle should the driver fall unconscious, or become otherwise incapacitated. A key feature of the system is the large red button in the centre of the dashboard, which crew can press in an emergency. This stops the engine and applies ABS braking to bring the vehicle to a gradual, controlled stop, minimising the risk to the HGV’s occupants or other road users.

VT Banksman protects pedestrians and vulnerable road users

A centrepiece of our VT Banksman set of products is an auto-braking reversing radar, alerting HGV drivers to any immobile or moving obstacles that are outside their field of vision. These advanced devices come in particularly useful for municipal vehicles and HGVs in similar industries, as they minimise the chances of collision in confined spaces like residential drives. It’s worth noting that such places are prime locations for children to be out playing – an additional summer risk we mentioned above.

These are just a few samples to give you an idea of the design principles behind our products here at Vision Techniques. You can see our cyclist safety products and other road safety products here, or for any questions or queries you can always give our sales line a call on 08455 278 267.

3 reasons why extra visibility is essential in summer

Posted on 26th Jul, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

lorry sunshine

On the whole, many would think that summer is the one time of year where visibility on the roads wouldn’t be an issue. That’s certainly true in one sense, but it’s not quite that simple! The darkness and wetness of winter is indeed where it can get really dangerous, but summer brings with it its own set of unique hazards, too. This week here at Vision Techniques, we explain more about these hazards, and what you can do to avoid them!

1. Side roads and driveways become busier

It’s fair to say that we don’t get a whole lot of sunny weather here in Britain. That means that when the mercury rises and the clouds start to clear, most of us are dead set on making the most of it! As a result, roads and driveways often become busier in summer as children set up impromptu football games and adults set up impromptu barbecues. Family pets, especially dogs, are also given more free reign to roam outside houses.

For HGV drivers, this results in a variety of new obstacles to contend with, some of which can even spill out onto main roads (for example, children chasing footballs – or dogs chasing cars!). It’s true that you might not have trouble picking them out in the blazing sunshine, but to do that they’ve got to enter your field of vision in the first place. For this reason, it’s vital that you’re able to maintain a 360° field of awareness around your vehicle.

In addition to our extensive range of vehicle cameras, you may be interested in our VT Banksman Reversing Radar system, which has been designed for situations exactly like these.

2. Commuters swap their cars for bikes

happy cyclist

The relationship between bikes and HGVs has always been somewhat fraught, although occasionally there are some brighter moments. For many people, the sunshine presents a great opportunity to get out of their cars and get more active on their morning commutes, which often translates into growing numbers of cyclists on the roads at rush hour. For the same reasons, summer is the season when the biggest public sporting events are scheduled, including marathons and cycling events. This means increased chances that drivers may suddenly find themselves suddenly navigating through large crowds of cyclists (and that’s if the roads aren’t closed entirely).

Luckily, here at Vision Techniques we have a range of cyclist safety products for exactly these purposes, including our universally popular TurnAware Cyclist Detection System.

3. Increased risk of dangerous driving

Summer is generally free of the wet conditions we often see in winter, creating widely dangerous road conditions for all users. Unfortunately though, the drier conditions can inspire what can generously be termed as confidence in some other drivers, who go for overtakes and drive for gaps that they might not otherwise risk in wetter conditions.

By the same token, traffic jams are shorter and briefer than they often are in winter, which means that some people are less patient. Most experienced HGV drivers will know the feeling of having to suddenly slam on the brakes when cut up by a smaller vehicle! Now, we’re not saying that these drivers are in the majority by any means – in fact, the vast majority of road users are as patient as they are sensible – but unfortunately the dangerous drivers are frequent enough to be worth bearing in mind.

Our range of vehicle cameras and mobile DVR products are both ideal for maintaining an unbroken field of vision around the vehicle, as well as protecting fleets and drivers from litigation, should an accident ever occur.

Here at Vision Techniques, your safety is our absolute priority. On our site we have a huge range of vehicle safety products to help protect both you and other road users. You can explore our full range of safety products here, or if you need any help just give us a call on 08452 872 240.

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.

Aggregate Industries astonished by Banksman Radar demonstration

Posted on 19th Apr, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

Vision Techniques were invited down to the Aggregate Industries Senior Leadership Conference to show the solution to reversing accidents, VT Banksman Auto Braking.

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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.

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.

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.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @visiontechniques

Kier Environmental choose IDent to prevent vehicle theft

Posted on 11th Dec, 2017 by Dominic Benabda

Leading services group Kier Environmental have chosen VT Ident to protect their vehicles from vehicle theft with all new municipal vehicle purchases and across their Bridgend fleet.

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Compliance Checklist For Christmas Drivers

Posted on 6th Dec, 2017 by Dominic Benabda

Safety is our top priority here at Vision Techniques, and we know it is for you too. Seasonal sales spikes means that many fleet operators are looking at taking on extra drivers for the festive season, and to that end the Licence Bureau has released a compliance checklist to help companies ascertain that their temporary drivers are up to scratch in terms of the confidence, competence and overall safety of their driving.

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