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HGV blind spot technology tested to improve road safety

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A new project funded by Transport for London (TfL) will independently test blind spot safety technology, which can be fitted to Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) to help reduce the risk of collisions between HGVs, pedestrians and cyclists.

One of TfL's top priorities is to reduce by 40 per cent the number of people killed or seriously injured on London's roads by 2020. Recently, the Mayor and TfL published six commitments which, working with a range of partners, are guiding initiatives to deliver this. In particular, action is being taken to prioritise the safety of the most vulnerable road users:  pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The new safety initiative, which builds on TfL’s work into Construction Logistics and cyclists’ safety, will be carried out by the independent Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). The project will evaluate the effectiveness of the full range of blind spot safety technology in spotting pedestrians and cyclists. This includes camera monitoring systems, optical and radar detection systems and other sensors fitted to HGVs.

The findings will then be used to create new and detailed performance criteria, such as the distance objects can be detected, how easily the equipment detects vulnerable road users, and how reliable the equipment is, to allow for independent testing and evaluation of products on the market today.

Companies will be able to use the new standard testing criteria to make a more informed choice about the types of safety equipment they invest in for their fleet vehicles. It will also help ensure a wider take-up of the best equipment while encouraging further innovation from product developers, helping to save lives both across London and more widely across the UK. 

TRL has now contacted more than a dozen companies across the UK, inviting them to take part in the evaluation and to become one of the first suppliers to be accredited using this approach. Once completed, the research will be made available to download from the TfL website and be used by the operators and manufacturers of HGVs and suppliers of safety technology.

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said: “Improving the safety of all road users is vitally important and, with technology moving so quickly, it is important that companies know that any safety equipment they invest in not only offers value for money, but does what it says on the tin. By funding this project, we can help companies make informed choices, encouraging use of the best equipment available and helping to drive development into further improvements in the future.”

The research project builds on the continuing work that TfL is carrying out to make London’s roads safer for all. Recently, it was announced that trials of a range of innovative radar-based technologies fitted to London Buses will be carried out this summer. The Mayor of London, TfL and London Councils are also proposing a safer lorry scheme, which will require every vehicle in London over 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with sideguards to protect cyclists from falling under the wheels. It will also require vehicles to be fitted with mirrors giving the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles.

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