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ACCIDENTS                                                                                    “Incidents involving collisions
                                                                                           between HGV’s and cyclists are
                                                                                               rare (...), but when they do
                                                                                             they are more likely to result
                                                                                           in serious injury than collisions
                                                                                                       with other vehicles.”

                    ECF gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European
                    commission. Nevertheless the sole responsibility of this publication
                    lies with the author. The European Union is not responsible for any
                    use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Rue Franklin, 28 1000 Brussels, Belgium Phone: +32 2 880 92 74 Fax: +32 2 880 92 75

THE PROBLEM                                            The most common incident involving blind spots and
                                                       lorries occur when the lorry turns right (or left in Cyprus,
Incidents involving collisions between                 Ireland, Malta and the UK) without being able to see the
HGV’s and cyclists are rare with                       cyclist sitting in an unsighted area to the side or just in
between 5-6% of HGV fatalities                         front and to the side. The cyclist is knocked off the bike
involving cyclist, but when they do they               and falls under the lorry as the corner is cut off as the
are more likely to result in serious injury            lorry turns and the cyclists goes under the back wheels. In
than collisions with other vehicles. For               the Netherlands Serious crashes involving cyclists and
example in the UK 10% of accidents                     lorries are fatal for 32% of the casualties; however for
between HGV and bicycles led to a                      blind spot crashes only the fatality rate is 41%. The table
fatality and over a third leading to                   below shows EU bicycle accidents with other vehicles.
serious injury or death1 (see table

In the Netherlands there was an
average of 71 casualties resulting from
HGV/Bicycle collisions each year, of
these, 15 fatalities and 22 hospital
admissions were a result of crashes
where a lorry turns right and over the
cyclists; the typical blind spot crash2. The
below table shows EU fatalities in
accidents involving HGVs and in
accidents involving buses or coaches3.

                        lorry/cyclist blind spot accidents

WHERE & WHAT IS THE BLIND SPOT?                       We can see that there is a major problem on the
                                                      front diagonal and sides of the lorry that would be
The blind spot is the area around a lorry over        major problems for lorries turning into cyclists at
which the driver lacks a direct or indirect view4.    junctions. A particular problem arises when cyclists
Blind spot’s therefore vary very much from lorry      position themselves at the front diagonal of the
to lorry and cab to cab. Below5 shows the             lorry while waiting at traffic lights or junctions. The
possible various blind spots on a right hand          cyclist is unsighted and the right or left turning lorry
drive lorry. Blind spot crashes between a cyclist     goes over him/her. This is backed up by figures
and a lorry typically occur at right turn junctions   looking at where accidents happen on the lorry7
(left in Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the UK). In       (see below). In the EU as a whole 236 lateral
the Netherlands almost one third of the severely      accidents compared to 25 frontal impacts.
injured casualties in collisions with a lorry occur
in the blind spot of a lorry turning right6.          Currently there is EU legislation that requires the
                                                      fitting and retrofitting of mirrors to lorries. Since
                                                      2006 Directive 2003/97/EC8 has required truck
                                                      manufacturers to fit revised and improved mirror
                                                      systems, cameras or any device “of indirect vision”
                                                      on all new HGVs to extend the rearward vision
                                                      available. Additionally Directive 2007/38/EC9 was
                                                      issued to allow the retrofitting of mirrors and/or
                                                      other devices to HGV’s10 registered after January
                                                      2000, so that lorries over 3.5 tonnes must be
                                                      retrofitted reducing blind spots and fulfilling the
                                                      technical requirements of Directive 2003/97. This
                                                      had to be completed by March 2009.

                       Values in red
                       calculated as
                   averages from all
                   other countries in
                  same colour band.


DIRECTIVE 2003/97/EC11

                Class III Mirrors - Main (large)

                Class IV Mirrors - Wide-angle

                Class V Mirrors - Close proximity

                Class VI Mirrors - Front

                    lorry/cyclist blind spot accidents

DO BLIND SPOT MIRRORS WORK?                           equipment requirements for newly registered
                                                      trucks, so as to ensure an optimum level of
At the moment there are no clear figures. Solid        safety.”
figures reach only up to 2009 which was the
deadline for the retrofitting mirrors legislation.     This was also mentioned in the Parliaments
However there are still stories in newspapers         response13 to the Commissions “Towards a
and internet blogs that record many incidences        European road safety area14” which
of blind spot accidents still occurring. It must be    on European road safety 2011-2020
remembered that not all of the mirrors are in the     “Urges the Commission to speed up its
same direction of view. While switching between       evaluation and revision of Directive
the mirrors, cyclists can be overlooked.              2007/38/EC; calls for technological
Therefore, alternative additional measures            advancement to be taken into account by fitting
should be looked at like detection systems. Such      all lorries with special rear-view mirrors,
devices (for example Lexguard) detect the             camera/monitor devices or other technical
presence of cyclists in the blind spot and give       instruments that eliminate blind spots, so as to
the lorry driver an audio warning signal.             prevent, in particular, accidents involving
Systems like this should be further tested, and if    cyclists and pedestrians who find themselves in
proven successful, installed in all new and           the driver’s blind spot”
existing lorries.

In this regard the European Commission is
obliged legally within Directive 2007/38/EC to
review the legislation on mirrors, which states
“By 6 August 2011 the Commission shall submit
to the European Parliament and to the Council a
report on the implementation of this Directive
together with a study on blind spot accidents
covering all vehicles and costs incurred, with the
aim of improving road safety. On the basis of a
more comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, the
Commission's report shall be accompanied, if
appropriate, by a proposal for the revision of
existing legislation.”

This has however been delayed though the
Commission has promised that this review will be
made public before the end of 2012. The
importance of this review has been highlighted
by the European Parliament in their Written
Declaration on heavy goods vehicle collisions
DCE/2011/205512 which
“…urges the Commission to speed up its
evaluation of Directive 2007/38/EC and to
revise it in order to align it with technological
advancement and with the latest indirect vision


OTHER TECHNOLOGIES                                            The European Transport Safety Council16 indicates
                                                              that 45% of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities could
Monitors/scanners                                             be saved. While Van Kampen & Schoon17 estimate
Trucks using laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors            that open side underrun protection results in 25%
that monitor the area on the right of the vehicle.            fewer fatalities and injuries, and closed side
When a cyclist or pedestrian gets too close, the              underrun protection results in 35% fewer.
truck driver is alerted by flashing lamps and
audible warning signals. This has been tested at              Regarding the legislation and side underrun
the Intersafe-2 project15. Even better would be               protection Council Directive 89/297/EEC
automatic braking systems that are engaged when               mandates side underrun protection on heavy
the scanner picks up an object in the blind spot              goods vehicles to prevent pedestrians, bicycle
                                                              riders and motorcyclists from falling under the
See Mi                                                        wheels of the heavy good vehicle when it turns.
The Danish city of Grenå is looking to install RFIDs          Most recently Regulation 661/2009 states that
in the steering columns of 300 residents' bikes, and
put receivers at seven intersections considered to            “Vehicles of categories N 2 , N 3 , O 3 and O 4
be the most dangerous. When a cyclist                         shall be constructed to ensure that, in the event of
approaches, the RFID sends a signal to the traffic             the vehicle being hit from the side by an
light which turns on a flashing 'cyclist' sign at eye          unprotected road user, the risk of injury to that
height to warn drivers, especially those of lorries           unprotected road user due to underrun is
Underrun protection bars
Underrun protection bars can be a useful tool for             However we would like to see a review of
limiting the damage done if an accident does                  underrun protection devices and to have it
occur. Underrun protection bars (sideskirts) can fit           tightened up to include closed underrun protection
along the front, side and backs of the lorry. For             which has been shown to be more effective19. Also
cyclists the side underrun protection closes the area         research has estimated that energy absorbing front
between the front and back wheels and prevents                underrun protection systems could save more than
the cyclist being dragged under the wheels.                   1,000 fatalities per year, improved rear underrun
                                                              protection systems a third of related fatalities per
                                                              year and improved side underrun protection
                                                              systems could save 45% of related vulnerable
                                                              road user fatalities per year.20

                                                              Another positive aspect of closed underrun
                                                              protection is that it decreases the energy
                                                              consumption. The new aerodynamic design of the
                                                              side underrun protection substantially reduces the
                                                              air currents alongside and under the trailer and
                                                              thereby also the air resistance. The UK’s
                                                              Department for Transport wrote in its Review of
                                                              Low Carbon Technologies for HGV21 that a
                                                              Canadian trial of side skirts resulted in a reduction
                                                              in CO2 emissions of 6.4% over real world running
                                                              by 3 transport companies.

                         lorry/cyclist blind spot accidents


Within the European Union, Directive                A study by the German Highway Research Institute
96/53/EC22 regulates the permissible                concludes that Megatrucks would lead
dimensions and weights for lorries and trucks in    “…to greater safety risks resulting from overtaking
international traffic. The Commission announced      manoeuvres and longer clearance times at
early 2011 that the Directive is due for revision   junctions. Higher gross vehicle weight would also
with codecision procedure (the usual procedure      lead to an increase in the severity of accidents24”.
including Parliament and Council) in 2012.
                                                    The Transport Research Laboratory25 expects an
It is important that the Commission use this        increasing number of accident casualties for
opportunity to look at how the cab and trailer      Megatrucks. Though not directly transposable, but
can be made safer for those who are confronted      still presented here given similarities in articulation,
by lorries in traffic. It should not be used to      a report has also shown that the articulated ‘bendy
legislate for the acceptance of Megatrucks23        buses’ in London cause three times more cyclist
being used in Europe.                               accidents than other buses26. Finally the
                                                    Commission report into Megatrucks concludes that
Megatrucks have been permitted in Finland and       “…all assessed LHVs would suffer additional blind
Sweden for some time and are currently on trial     spots during cornering manoeuvres and the front
in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands             trailer or the rigid vehicle would prevent vision of
(though the trials are with set routes and do not   the front area of the rear trailer.27”
conform to competitive market conditions).
These lorries will cause significant blind spot      For a full report on cycling safety and megatrucks
problems and will lead to more road casualties,     please see the ECF report here:
particularly for cyclists.                


2 SWOV Fact sheet Blind spot crashes
3 Source: EU CARE Database
4 A direct view is where the driver can see through the window; and indirect view is via a mirror or camera or other visual device
6 SWOV Fact sheet Blind spot crashes
7 Jacobs consultancy: Cost-benefit analysis of blind-spot accidents, 2004.

8 European Parliament and Council. Directive 2003/97/EC of 10 November 2003 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the

type-approval of devices for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices, amending Directive 70/156/EEC and repealing Directive
9 European Parliament and Council. Directive 2007/38/EC of 11 July 2007 on the retrofitting of mirrors to heavy goods vehicles registered in the

10 HGV’s meaning goods vehicles over the 3.5t max gross weight and passenger vehicles with more than 17 seats
11 Source Analysis of police collision files for pedal cyclist fatalities in London, 2001 – 2006 Transport for London
13 on European road safety 2011-2020

16 European Transport Safety Council (2005): The Safety of Vulnerable Road Users in the Southern, Eastern and Central European Countries (The "SEC

17 Kampen, L.T.B. van & Schoon, C.C. (1999). De veiligheid van vrachtauto's; Een ongevals- en maatregelenanalyse. R-99-31. SWOV, Leidschendam.
19 Kampen, L.T.B. van & Schoon, C.C. (1999)The safety of lorries; An accident and measures analysis commissioned by the Dutch Transport Operators

20 ETSC Fact Sheet: The Safety of Heavy Duty Vehicles.
26 Can be downloaded here


                               lorry/cyclist blind spot accidents

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