Research pinpoints most dangerous HGV cab designs

12.00 | 1 August 2016 | | 7 comments

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

The study analysed the cab designs of 19 of the most widely used HGVs and found that those with high cabs have the most blind spots.

The study was commissioned by TfL because HGVs are disproportionately involved in collisions involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in London.

The research team from the Loughborough Design School digitally scanned all 19 vehicles to create exact CAD models that could then be accurately assessed.

Using real collision data they then recreated scenarios involving vulnerable road users, placing them in a number of locations adjacent to all the vehicles, and plotting exactly where blind spots existed.

On the back of the research, the team is calling for a new standard which defines what should be directly visible from a HGV cab, describing this as ‘a key mechanism for improving future vehicle designs’.

Steve Summerskill, project leader, 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.”


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    The study was commissioned by TfL because of their phobia about accidents to cyclists. Most HGVs do most of their mileage on Motorways or Trunk roads where there are few vulnerable users and the high cab is a positive benefit (think of all the car drivers who now opt for high cab SUV’s, etc.)

    Robert Bolt St Albans
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    What about a camera mounted on the nearside of the cab, giving the driver a view of what’s there – similar to what some vehicles already have now to aid reversing?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Coming back to this, now there are some other comments, and my first thought this time is:

    “The study was commissioned by TfL because HGVs are disproportionately involved in collisions involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in London.”

    How about if it read: “The study was commissioned by TfL because pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are disproportionately involved in collisions involving HGVs in London.”

    As people involved more directly in road safety, we are all aware that the nearside of a large vehicle is a stupid and extremely vulnerable place to be. Teach other people what we already know.

    Different ordering implies different emphasis.

    London already has stricter rules than the rest of the country regarding extra blind spot mirrors, side skirts, extra indicators (including audible warnings) and so forth. All of these ignore the simple fact that some road users deliberately, if not intentionally, put themselves in dangerous positions.

    All of us here should be aware that almost all collisions are down to human factors, and that there is in such instances the involvement of more than one human. To place all the emphasis on physical engineering and one human (the driver) is politically absolving the other human of all responsibility. Thus they feel no need to care of their own safety.

    R. Craven
    Of course, always the driver’s fault. Never the fault of those who put themselves in a dangerous position? As a human being regardless of method of transport I regard being too close to a large vehicle as a pretty dumb idea.

    Then people on the right become vulnerable, particularly those cyclists and motorcyclists who actually pass on the correct side for either correct lane discipline, or safety.

    Steve, Watford
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    Maybe the best solution would be near side drivers!

    Rod King, Cheshire, 20’s Plenty for Us
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    Good idea. Now all it needs now is a driver that cares … look.

    R.Craven Blackpool
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    Research seems to have proven what many would have assumed to be the case anyway regarding blindspots. Reducing cab height may mean a total re-design and that may be a long time coming without legislation to force the pace. An interim solution may be near side camera(s)for the driver – which I see from a quick check on Google are already available.

    Pat, Wales
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    Engineering is only a partial solution. The first thing that springs to mind is to lower the cab requires radical redesign of powerplant and drive train and/or lengthening vehicles. The extra few feet on the front of a refuse vehicle is not such a big deal, but other vehicles may be at, or too close to their maximum permissible length to allow that.

    Another good idea has long been and gone. Extra glazing. The Ford cargo with doors glazed almost to cab floor level, the Leyland/DAF roadrunner with its “kerb window” in the passenger footwell.

    The other major factor is the human factor. Simply teach people if you can’t see the driver, they can’t see you. The emphasis is seemingly always on the driver, ignoring that collisions often involve bad decision making processes by more than just drivers.

    steve, watford
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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