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Loughborough University research pinpoints most dangerous HGV designs

HGVs with high cabs have the most blind spots and pose the greatest risk to vulnerable road users, research by Loughborough University has found.

Steve Summerskill from Loughborough Design School using SAMMIE CAD software

All the cyclists obscured from the view of a HGV driver

Transport for London (TfL) commissioned the study to understand blind spots across HGVs as they are disproportionately involved in collisions  involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in the capital city.

The research team from the Loughborough Design School analysed 19 of the most popular HGVs, including construction, distribution and long haul vehicles and those with high and low cab designs.

They digitally scanned all 19 vehicles to create exact CAD models that could then be accurately assessed. Then using real accident data they were able to recreate scenarios involving vulnerable road users, placing them in a number of defined locations adjacent to all 19 vehicles and plot exactly where blind spots existed.

The team is now calling for a new standard which defines what should be visible through direct vision from a HGV. Such a standard does not currently exist, and is seen by them as a key mechanism for improving future vehicle designs.

Discussing the research findings, project leader Steve Summerskill said: “We found that all standard vehicle configurations have blind spots which can hide vulnerable road users from the driver’s direct vision.

“However the height of the cab above the ground is the key vehicle factor which affects the size of direct vision and indirect vision blind spots. Low entry cab designs, which are the lowest of the 19 vehicles tested, demonstrated real benefits in terms of reducing direct vision blind spots when compared to standard vehicle designs.

“If you seriously want to reduce the number of collisions involving vulnerable road users and HGVs you have to improve the direct field of vision for drivers – and from our research this means lowering HGV cab designs or adopting low entry cab designs.”

Ian Wainwright, Head of Freight and Fleet at TfL, added: “The best decisions are those based on evidence, and the research that we commissioned Loughborough to undertake is another tool in the box to make the right choices to improve road safety. This research into comparing direct vision of HGV drivers will create the platform to take efforts on road safety further.”

The research findings can be viewed here.

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