Revamped truck cabin design could save hundreds of lives by improving visibility, the University of Loughborough’s Design School has said.
Its research project, comissioned by Transport and Environment, and Transport for London, has shown that an 80cm longer cab with a rounded nose, smaller dashboard, larger windows and a lower driving position, could drastically reduce driver blindspots.
The Design School, an authority in the area of direct vision, said its ‘Direct Vision’ truck cabin concept could increase the driver’s front and side field of view by more than 50%.
Dr Steve Summerskill, Direct Vision Project Leader at Loughborough Design School, said, “Blind spots can be a significant factor in fatal accidents with lorries. The study shows that the size of these blind spots can be minimised through improved cabin design, the reduction of cab height and the addition of extra windows.”
The report highlights the outdated box design of current truck cabs as the main reason for the high number of fatalities caused by heavy goods vehicles. According to the European Transport Safety Council, there are more than 4,200 fatal accidents involving HGVs each year, with more than 1,000 resulting in the deaths of pedestrians and cyclists.
It adds that European legislation needs to be more robust to prevent HGV-related fatalities, as currentrules only focus on visibility from indirect devices such as mirrors.
Current weight and dimensions rules have also been blamed for creating large blind spots. It accepts that the EU is proposing changes to lorry design, which includes complying with additional safety measures, but it feels more still needs to be done.
William Todts, Senior Policy Officer of Transport and Environment, said, “Not only drivers, but politicians too need vision. It’s incomprehensible that we allow huge 40 tonne mammoths on our roads without making sure the people behind the wheel actually see what’s going on. After decades of tinkering with mirrors, we need to take this once-in-a-generation opportunity and make direct vision compulsory for new lorry designs.”