New Concept HGV Cabs Could Spell Danger for Cyclists
Thursday 04 Jul 2013

MAN Concept S lorry

Following the release of Department for Transport figures that showed an increase in the number of cyclists killed on our roads in 2012, truck manufacturers MAN have showed off a concept lorry they hope will replace the standard look lorries on our roads.

The current flat fronted design of lorries is not only bad for fuel consumption, but the large blind spots are fatal for pedestrians and cyclists. Now the European Commission says it wants to change the rules governing the size of lorries. They claim that the new rules will cut fuel costs, improve driver visibility, and save lives.

MAN's Concept S that they're pushing to have approved, is shaped to deflect a person away from the vehicle if there's an accident. The more aerodynamic design will use less fuel and the bigger windows and cameras instead of mirrors will clear up some of those blind spots. But this comes at a cost, the European Commission wants to allow 25m monster lorries on the roads so they can cater for the new cab design.

Levenes Partner and lorry safety campaigner, Kevin O'Sullivan says, "It’s really positive that lorry designers and manufacturers are beginning to come up with new ideas, but the idea of longer trailers on London’s already congested streets is one that’ll fill cyclists and pedestrians with horror. They will need more space to turn left and will therefore have even more scope to take cyclists with them as they turn."

The good news is that individual governments will be able to opt out and our own DfT says it has no intention of letting much bigger trucks on the roads. But according to Proffesor David Cebon at Cambridge University, the government may have no choice. He says that if other EU countries allow longer lorries then UK businesses will lose out and the government will come under of pressure to allow them here too. On the large size lorries he goes on to say that "The experience in Australia is that these larger, heavier vehicles have a far better safety record than the vehicles they are replacing." 

Responding to the quotes from Professor Cebon, Kevin says, "It’s dangerous to compare safety statistics across countries, for example Australia. In London, we have a very particular issue with tight roads and junctions and reduced visibility for both lorry drivers and cyclists. Outside the urban environment in the UK, HGV’s are relatively safe; it’s in the cities where there’s a massive issue."

"We can take something good from this though. Designers are finally looking at making these terrifying weapons of cyclist destruction safer."

View the latest DfT 2012 injuries to cyclists on UK roads, mapped in our interactive cycling map here.

Original story on the BBC site here.

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