Loughborough experts develop plan to improve road safety in London and beyond

direct vision

The most unsafe HGVs will be removed from London’s roads as part of a world-first scheme defined and tested by Loughborough University researchers.

Transport for London has this week launched the final public consultation on Direct Vision Standard proposals which will tackle road danger at its source by reducing Heavy Goods Vehicles’ blind spots that are the cause of so many tragic deaths and life-changing injuries.

In 2017 around 4,000 people were killed or seriously injured in collisions on London’s streets. TfL research shows that between 2015 and 2017 HGVs were disproportionately involved in fatal collisions.

Restrictions in an HGV driver’s field of vision, or ‘blind spots’ have been identified as a significant contributory factor in collisions.

The Direct Vision Standard for Heavy Goods Vehicles is the first initiative of its kind in the world to categorise HGVs depending on the level of a driver’s direct vision from a cab, and is the result of a recommendation made by Loughborough University Design researchers.

This scheme, and associated Safety Permit for HGVs that have retrofitted a Safe System, will reduce road danger for people across the capital and is due to be introduced in 2020 to improve vehicle safety and increase visibility of vulnerable road users.

HGVs will be given a rating between ‘zero-star’ (lowest) and ‘five-star’ (highest), with only those vehicles rated ‘three-star’ and above, or which have comprehensive safety systems, able to operate in London from 2024.

Loughborough Design School has been hugely instrumental in bringing the Direct Vision Standard to where it is today. The school’s involvement began in 2015 when it was commissioned to explore the blind spot size found in 19 trucks using their own CAD system SAMMIE CAD. 

The more that a simulated driver can see of this space around the truck, the better the truck performs.

This combines to produce a minimum standard for acceptable direct vision and the star rating system that shows the best vehicles on the market.

The European Commission has followed London’s lead by including direct vision in the revised General Safety Regulation, which is the leading piece of EU road safety legislation.

This is a major step in reducing road danger and will help make all HGVs safer across Europe.

LDS and TfL have also worked with vehicle manufacturers to rate a sample of Euro IV and Euro V HGVs, in the same way, the Euro VI HGVs were rated. These ratings are now available directly from manufacturers.

Dr Steve Summerskill said: “This successful project is the result of the efforts of a number of staff in the Loughborough Design School, who have worked as a team to produce an innovate and accurate testing technique that has been validated by vehicle manufacturers.

“The result will have a beneficial effect on the safety of vulnerable road users in the UK capital and further afield, with adoption at a European-level currently being explored by TfL and the LDS team.”