Are HGV warning stickers enough to protect vulnerable road users?
It’s a well-known fact that the size and weight of HGVs means that they can pose a potential danger to more vulnerable road users. This is especially true in cities and other built up urban areas, where the dense populations and narrow roads can make the issue of blind spots even more evident. A blind spot is generally defined as the area that can’t be directly observed by the driver while at the wheel, and it’s the key focus of the new Direct Vision Standard, which comes into effect in October of 2020.
The DVS awards each HGV a score out of five, according to how much drivers can directly see from their cab without the use of visual aids such as cameras or mirrors. (HGVs scored at zero will require a one-star rating to operate in the city or run the risk being fined.)
There’s a good reason that authorities are taking such action. A recent Transport for London factsheet outlined that during 2017 there were 27,089 reported collisions involving cyclists, resulting in 32,567 casualties. 131 people were fatally injured and 3750 seriously injured. They’re sobering numbers, and enough to beg the question – are warning stickers alone sufficient to overcome the issue of the blind spot? And if not, what other types of technology can be used to increase the safety of your fleet?
Warning stickers can be seen to deflect responsibility
The responsibility for keeping everyone safe isn’t the remit of just one group of road users. It’s one that’s shared between vulnerable road users, drivers and fleet managers, and as far as the latter are concerned, there’s more to ensuring the protection of vulnerable road users than fixing a sticker on the back of the vehicle. Vulnerable road users may argue one of the biggest issues is that a warning sign puts the onus squarely on them to avoid collisions.
A blind spot sticker is an essential part of your vehicle safety kit; however, it isn’t designed to do a job entirely by itself. Instead, vehicle safety and road awareness need to be a constant concern in the driver’s mind, and active visual aids and auditory systems are therefore essential to increase the driver’s view of the surroundings of vehicle, rather than entrusting everything purely to warning stickers.
Fleets will find it easier to protect vulnerable road users and legally protect their company by proactively investing in more advanced vehicle safety technologies like cameras and monitors, or our very own Overview 360° technology. These advanced systems are designed to eliminate blinds spots, make maneouvres safer, protect vulnerable road users and gain your one-star rating for DVS.
Warning stickers are strictly passive
Warning stickers are a completely passive addition to your safety equipment.
They don’t do anything to actively help the driver expand or maintain their awareness of the road around them, just as they don’t always make themselves particularly obvious to other road users and pedestrians.
Sure, they’re brightly coloured and designed to stand out, but when cyclists or motorcyclist are travelling at speed, they’re dealing with a lot of sensory input, from the flashing lights of traffic signals and pedestrian crossings to the horns and approaching engines of other cars from behind them.
That’s why our own cyclist safety products like TurnSign and TurnAware are both designed to stand out as much as possible, helping drivers to clearly communicate their intentions to approaching cyclists, and avoid any dangerous turning-left collisions.
Warning stickers don’t fix the actual problem
Whilst warning stickers can be helpful when deployed alongside a range of more active measures, the real problem with HGVs is the size of their blind spots, and stickers don’t do anything to mitigate that, they are a warning only. The ultimate goal shouldn’t be to warn people about the problem – the ultimate goal should be to fix it.
That’s our philosophy when designing every one of our own vehicle safety products, and it’s one shared by authorities across the UK, too. All of the devices we’ve listed above are useful for creating a Safe System, which is now a requirement for many HGVs to legally operate in London, due to the implementation of the Direct Vision Standard in 2020.
We gave a brief explanation above, but to recap in more detail – the Direct Vision Standard assesses how much drivers can see directly from their cab. Vehicles are scored out of five, and those with a low rating will have to prove a Safe System by covering blind spots and improving awareness using vehicle safety technology. Right now, HGVs with the lowest 0-star rating need a safe system, but from 2024 onwards, it’ll apply to vehicles with a 3-star rating or below – which means that the vast majority of serviceable HGVs will need some form of Safe System in order to operate in London (and possibly other major cities by then, too).
That’s where we can help right here at Vision Techniques, with a huge range of vehicle safety technology backed up with years of specialist expertise. You can browse the full range right here on our website, or alternatively give us a call on 01254 679 717 if you need any assistance or advice. We’re here to help!