The European Parliament has voted to reduce the blind spot on lorries – but action could still be four years away.
MEPs voted this morning to adopt new standards first put forward last year. Following lobbying from cycling organisations across Europe, the new legislation says that lorries must be built with larger windows and rounded fronts:
“The new cab profile will also contribute to improving road safety by reducing the blind spot in the driver’s vision, including under the windscreen and to the side of the vehicle, which should help save the lives of many vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. The new cab profile should therefore, after an appropriate transitional period, become mandatory.”
According to the European Cyclists’ Federation, HGVs are implicated in almost one-fifth of fatal accidents on Europe’s roads. CTC, the British cycling charity, says that lorries comprise only 5% of traffic yet are involved in 18% of cycling fatalities:
“The outdated brick-shaped design of lorry cabs creates ‘blind spots’ around the cab making drivers unable to see cyclists and pedestrians close by. This is particularly dangerous when drivers make manoeuvres, especially left-turns, which can result in the lorry cutting across the path of a cyclist (during the period 2000-2010, 55% of cyclists deaths occurred when lorries made a left-turn).”
But the new legislation won’t come into force immediately. First it has to be approved by the European Council, which comprises the heads of each country in the EU. Concerns have already been expressed that the British government may seek to overturn or water down the proposals.
The Greek government, which currently holds the presidency of the EU, is aiming to secure member states’ agreement in June. If the adoption of this text takes place in 2014/2015, says the EU, the new trucks could be expected to be seen on the roads by 2018-2020.
The London Cycling Campaign has been at the forefront of calls for safer lorries. It points out that lorries are involved in half the cyclist fatalities in Greater London, even though they make up only a small fraction of motor traffic. It wants London councils to install safety equipment on their lorries and those of contractors even in advance of the 2018 date; 11 councils have already signed its pledge.