Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Safer lorry designs need EU go-head now say industry, transport and safety experts

28 October 2014
Delaying the introduction of safer cleaner HGV designs until after 2025 would mean that hundreds more live will be needlessly lost a group of industry, transport and safety experts said today.

Due to pressure from manufacturers [1] at the final stage of negotiations in Brussels, some EU countries are threatening to delay introducing the new designs. [2]

The UK Government has been supportive of enabling safer and cleaner lorry cabs. Today,  eleven British organisations representing sustainable transport, road safety campaigners, cyclists, pedestrians, the haulage industry and professional bodies have come together to write to the Transport Minister, Robert Goodwill, to urge him to ensure that the EU allows more aerodynamic, safer lorry designs to be used as soon as possible. [3]

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager Campaign for Better Transport said,
“Hundreds more lives will be needlessly lost if the safer more aerodynamic HGV cab designs are delayed. In London, lorries were involved in over half of cyclists' deaths even though they only made up 5% of traffic in both 2011 and 2012.” [4]

Philippa added, “These new HGV cab designs would reduce blind spots and add a crumple zone to protect pedestrians and cyclists from being knocked underneath the wheels in a collision, while reducing fuel costs by up to 10% through increased efficiency. [5] If our Government is serious about improving road safety it must push for the introduction of these designs now on a voluntary basis as soon as possible.”  

Kate Cairns, Founder of See Me Save Me said,
“My sister, Eilidh Cairns, aged 30yrs, was run over from behind by a tipper lorry at Notting Hill Gate whilst cycling to work in February 2009. As similar deaths kept coming, with the majority of drivers saying they did not see the victim, I founded the See Me Save Me campaign, calling for the mandatory elimination of lorry blind spots. We must ensure that those inclined to use safer vehicles are able to do so to prevent similar avoidable violent deaths, and that is why this legislation is so crucial.”

The joint letter to Transport Minister Robert Goodwill is available online and the public are being encouraged to add their voices to the call for safer lorry designs via the online action 'We need safer lorries now' www.bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport/lorries-action


For further information contact 

Philippa Edmunds, Campaign for Better Transport
Phone 020 8241 9982
Mobile 07593 976 548
Email philippaedmunds@blueyonder.co.uk

Kate Cairns, See Me Save Me, hosted by RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims
Mobile 07961336115
Email kate.cairns@gmail.com



1. France and Sweden are leading the push for the delay on behalf of Volvo and Renault.

2.  Trialogue negotiations on the revision of the weights and dimensions directive 96/53/EC commenced on 22.10.2014. Both the Parliament and Commission want the new designs allowed by 2017/2018 which allows time for transposition into national laws. However, in its political agreement, the Council suggests new designs should be banned until at least 2023 which means they probably could not enter the market until 2025-2028.

3.  The eleven organisations are:-
Campaign for Better Transport, RoadPeace, See Me Save Me, British Cycling, Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Living Streets, Institution of Civil Engineers, Skanska, O’Donovan, SIG PLC and Waste Disposal, Kayleigh Plant Hire Limited. The letter can be dowloaded below.

4.  London cycling fatalities statistics TfL & Sadiq Khan Parliamentary Question Jan 2014.

In the UK as a whole, HGVs were involved in 51% of fatal collisions on motorways - even though they only made up 11% of motorway traffic in 2012. Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT published 2013 for 2012 figures

5. The European Commission estimates that a more streamlined cab along with rear flaps could improve fuel efficiency by up to 7-10%, saving hauliers around €5,000 per vehicle per year at today’s diesel prices. While lorries make up only 3% of vehicles, they account for 25% of road transport CO2 emissions in Europe. Fuel costs represent around a third of haulage costs.

6. Current EU rules on weights and dimensions of HGVs have indirectly restricted the length of cabins to 2.35m which explains why European lorries have such blunt brick-shaped cabin fronts which affect the aerodynamics of lorries, making them inefficient and dangerous in the event of a frontal crash. The revision of the weights and dimensions directive 96/53 is the enabling legislation to allow the extra dimensions in the cab to allow for the streamlined design. We believe that the specific safety requirements can be developed through committee procedure within the Vehicle Type Approval framework.

Today’s cab design forces the driver to sit on top of the engine in such a high position that much of what happens around the cab is invisible to them – the so-called fatal blind spots. Redesigning lorry cabs to reduce blind spots could save hundreds of cyclists’ and pedestrians’ lives every year, according to a study by Loughborough University which found this ‘direct vision’ lorry concept would increase the driver’s field of view in front and to the sides of the lorry by 50% compared to today’s lorries. This 80cm longer cab with a rounded nose, smaller dashboard, expanded glazed areas and a slightly lower driver position is supported by an alliance of  22 organisations, including the Mayor of London, the Freight Transport Association, TfL, cyclist, local authority and road safety organisations. http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2014%2001%2028%20Safer%20cleaner%20lorries%20now%20-%20declaration_final_update.pdf