Freight in the City Expo brings you the latest HGV safety products for urban fleets

Fleet safety will be one of the main themes in this year’s Freight in the City Exhibitor Zone.

As urban populations expand, ensuring the limited road space in UK cities is shared safely between all users is a priority for local authorities and freight operators alike.

This year’s show will feature a range of products aimed at making sure commercial vehicles fleets and their drivers are as safe as possible when driving alongside vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians.

Returning to Alexandra Palace after its worldwide debut last year will be the DawesGuard system with DropDown technology – a fully retractable inflatable barrier, which creates a physical shield across the ‘danger zone’ between the front and rear axles of construction vehicles to prevent a person being dragged under the rear wheels.

It has recently been trialled by London tipper operator Keltbray Group, which plans to install it on a number of vehicles.

Also on show will be an emergency braking system, which has been created to prevent runaway HGVs.

BrakeSafe, developed by Vision Techniques, automatically applies a vehicle’s handbrake if the driver has forgotten to use it, as well as providing an audible alarm.

Technical manager Nigel Armstrong said the company recognised the need for a fail-safe system to prevent rollaway accidents, and began working on the design last year.

The system won this year’s Motor Transport Innovation Award, as well as scooping the Tip-Ex Show Innovation Award.

Blind spot elimination is another focus for fleet managers, and one product offering a way to provide better direct vision of vulnerable road users hidden alongside an HGV’s nearside is Astra Vehicle Technologies’ Clear-View windows.

The low-level passenger door windows, originally developed for the Daf CF and LF trucks, are now also available for Iveco, MAN and Scanias.

Made from toughened glass, the vision panels also allow the main passenger door window to be fully open.

Register now for the free-to-attend Freight in the City Expo, which takes place on 2 November at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Delegates can attend a selection of seminars featuring leading freight and public sector officials, as well browsing the exhibition halls and networking with industry peers.

London ‘more difficult’ for professional drivers to work in than five years ago

A staggering 96% of operators said that it is more difficult for their drivers to deliver in London now than it was five years ago.

Congestion; vulnerable road users and an overwhelming number of compliance schemes were cited as the main problems by respondents to a new survey.

The survey was conducted jointly by and the FTA – ahead of the second Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace in London on 2 November.

Reasons given for why driving in the capital was harder now than five years ago included: “too much traffic”; “the restrictions on times and the sheer volume of traffic”; and “more traffic, cyclists, width restrictions, and other road users lack of knowledge of how big a turning circle a lorry needs”.

Those taking part in the survey could tick multiple options.

Nearly all respondents said congestion in the capital was a major issue, with 94% stating it was either the “most challenging” aspect or a “very challenging” aspect of delivering.

Over a third of respondents (35%) said that vulnerable road users were the “most challenging” aspect of delivering in London while some 52.9% said that is was a “very challenging” aspect.

Ignorance and attitude

One participant in the survey cited “the ignorance and attitude of cyclists, the redevelopment of road junctions [and] not being able to access parts of the city before 7am,” as reasons why working in London had become harder for professional drivers.

Some 41% of those surveyed said having “too many different compliance schemes” was the most challenging part of deliveries in London.

Another participant singled out “local councils who don’t like change when trying to re-time deliveries”.

PCN’s and the London Lorry Control Scheme were also singled out but not to the degree of other compliance schemes, vulnerable road users and congestion.

However, operators were split in regards the challenge of recruiting drivers to deliver in London during the past five years; with 20% claiming it to be the most challenging aspect of operating there, and 20% saying it was the least challenging.

London mayor gives go-ahead for new Cycle Superhighway

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has given the green light to a North-South Cycle Superhighway to King’s Cross.

Once complete the full North-South route, also known as Cycle Superhighway 6 (CS6), will provide a route for cyclists across central London between Elephant and Castle and King’s Cross.

At 5km in total, the route will be either fully separated from traffic, or run down back streets.

At its northern end, the route will connect both with the planned Quietway 2, and Central London Grid routes, allowing cyclists to travel to Hackney, Walthamstow, Camden and Swiss Cottage.

Khan said: “We must make it safer and easier for all Londoners to cycle. It can have major benefits for our health, and making cycling part of people’s everyday lives will also help clean up London’s toxic air.

“The extension of the North-South Cycle Superhighway will make a big difference joining up existing and planned safe cycle routes in this part of London, and make cycling a safe and practical option for thousands more Londoners.”

Construction will start in spring 2017.

Lowery is 150th Fors gold recipient

Civil engineering firm Lowery is the 150th company to achieve Fors gold accreditation.

The Reigate, Surrey-based Lowery runs three HGVs and vans in and around London working on projects supporting the rail industry.

It has been a member of Fors since 2012.

Kevin Griffiths, compliance and SHEQ manager at Lowery,  said: “Our new Fors gold accreditation is the result of a sustained effort in improving our fleet operations.

“Significant benefits have been achieved with regard to both fuel efficiency and a reduction in vehicle accidents (put at a 25% reduction). We have also noted a reduction in our fleet insurance premiums as a result of these improvements,” he added.

Lowery, which has added cameras, nearside proximity sensors and audible alarms to all of its vehicles, said it had also seen a 93% reduction in parking fines thanks to the training and toolkits available via Fors membership.



System that identifies collision hotspots to be trialled across Europe

A safety system to flag up potential collision hotspots between HGVs and vulnerable road users is to be independently tested in a three-month trial across Europe.

The new ‘My Alert’ incident prevention software forms part of the Cycle Safety Shield system – a collision avoidance technology already fitted on a number of UK fleets.

It is expected to be of keen interest to local authorities and city transport bodies, such as TfL and Spanish equivalent EMT Madrid, who could use the data to make urban roads safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.

My Alert works by identifying places with a large concentration of vulnerable road user hazard alerts as generated by the Cycle Safety Shield device fitted to vehicles.

It brings up an instant Google Street View image so transport planners and road safety officials can view the problem zones, which might be caused by a large pothole for example, so they can rectify the issue before an incident occurs.

The system will also collect and record all of the data produced by the system and produce detailed reports for the end user.

cycle_safety_shieldFleet operators involved in the trial include civil engineering contractors Murrill Construction and Amey Group and supermarket Sainsbury’s, alongside local councils, bus companies and TfL.

Richmond Council is one such local authority keen to find out the potential road safety benefits of the system and is taking delivery of a new fleet lorry later this week to be fitted with Cycle Safety Shield.

Cllr Peter Buckwell, cabinet member for highways and streetscene, said: “Through this trial we will be able to see if we can help to reduce the risks to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

“If the trial is successful and cost effective, we can look to roll out the system, or similar systems, further.”

The trial commences on 20 August and will be run by an independent company that will also collate and summarise the findings to be published in December.

The report will also take into account honest feedback from drivers as to how they found driving a vehicle fitted with Cycle Safety Shield.

Collision detection

Cycle Safety Shield is designed to only detect pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles when a collision is imminent, giving the driver up to 2.7 seconds to react to a potential collision warning. The system includes:

  • Detection and collision avoidance for front and left hand side of the vehicle that only recognises pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles.
  • Lane departure warning.
  • Speed monitor and warning.
  • My Alert – an application that will help recognise places with a large concentration of pedestrian, cyclist and motorcycle alerts.
  • Headway monitoring for the vehicle in front which monitors a safe distance through artificial vision technology and speed.
  • Full 360 degree bird’s eye view of the vehicle eliminating blind spots.

Keltbray Group to fit DawesGuard cyclist protection device to fleet

London tipper operator Keltbray Group has opted to fit the DawesGuard safety device across its fleet vehicles following a 12-week trial of the system.

The DawesGuard creates a physical shield across the ‘danger zone’ between the front and rear axles of construction vehicles to prevent a person being dragged under the rear wheels.

Fixed above the DawesGuard is the Dawes PeoplePanel, made from shatterproof plastic, which is fitted over existing under-run bars to reduce the risk of entanglement of clothing or bicycle parts.

Both devices have been tested out on Keltbray Group’s London operation and trialled in a range of environments both on and off road.

Keltbray head of haulage operations Terry Good, said: “We have now carried out an extensive trial of the DawesGuard and believe this device will prevent vulnerable road users getting trapped underneath the nearside of one of our vehicles.”

He added: “We are also satisfied that the inflatable barrier does not negatively impact on the driving performance of our vehicles, and that the retractable mechanism, which can be applied on uneven and off road sites, is easy to operate for our drivers.”

The operator, which runs a 40-strong 100% Scania fleet of tippers, will be retrofitting eight units with the Dawes devices in the coming weeks, with all new trucks also fitted with the system as the fleet is updated within the next 18 months.

James Dawes, MD of Dawes Highway Safety and inventor of the system, said: “Keltbray have put the DawesGuard through a tough and rigorous trial process and we’re very pleased with the outcome.”

Keltbray Group have also committed to fitting Scania additional passenger door windows to all new vehicles joining the fleet to boost drivers’ direct visibility of cyclists alongside the vehicle.


Technology versus direct vision in the quest to eliminate HGV blindspots

Freightinthecity’s sister publication Commercial Motor spoke to industry about the best way to help HGV drivers avoid collisions with vulnerable road users.

Technology to help HGV drivers avoid collisions with cyclists hidden in their vehicles’ blind spots is arguably now the norm, rather than the exception in city fleets. But with numerous mirrors, visual display units (VDUs), audible alarms and additional window panels to scan, is too much expected now of drivers operating in unpredictable urban areas?

How much can technology really help in reducing the risk of collisions between lorries and vulnerable road users, or is the most important place for the driver’s eyes to be on the road at all times?

This is an area TfL is hoping to explore through research it has commissioned with Arup, in partnership with University of Leeds’ Perception, Action Cognition laboratory. It wants to better understand the role of eye contact and direct vision (through windows) over indirect vision (through mirrors and VDUs) in improving road safety and reducing HGV collisions with vulnerable road users and “answer this question empirically”.

“The project aims to determine the effect of visual factors on HGV safety interacting with vulnerable road users,” says Hannah White, freight and fleet project manager at TfL.

“It will provide clarity around whether more direct vision in HGV cabs would result in safer driving and fewer people being killed and injured on London’s roads.”

The research is intended to be used to inform a case for the European Commission to encourage amended regulations on HGV design to provide drivers with greater direct vision.

While last month’s Brexit vote may affect the UK’s input on this matter, the research will still be of significant importance for the road haulage sector when published later this year.

Direct vision is ‘the way forward’

For London-based O’Donovan Waste Disposal, it’s a no-brainer that direct-vision cabs, such as those used on the Mercedes-Benz Econic (pictured) and Dennis Eagle Elite 6, provide drivers with the safest possible tool to prevent collisions with other road users.

MD Jacqueline O’Donovan says that the firm’s drivers have reacted positively to the enhanced visibility provided by the company’s two new Econics.

“Direct vision is the way forward for all cabs and is something that I would like to see manufacturers tackle head on, sooner rather than later. It takes too long [several seconds] for a driver to scan all their mirrors and monitors – a lot can happen in that time with London’s roads as busy as they are,” she explains.

O’Donovan adds that while mirrors and cameras have helped drivers on a basic level in the past, they are now outdated and the industry is looking to move road safety up a notch through better design. “Technology is only filling the gap at present. Direct vision needs to be a minimum standard and manufacturers can evolve from there to help drivers and keep vulnerable road users safer,” she says.

Construction haulier Keltbray is another advocate of keeping a driver’s operating environment as simple as possible. “Direct vision is by far the best option when it comes to ensuring a city truck is as safe as possible on the roads,” says head of haulage Terry Good.

The company has recently trialled Scania’s additional low-level, passenger-side window, receiving a thumbs-up from the firm’s drivers.

“While it’s not a full-length window, we find it a great help for our drivers. We are replacing our fleet within 18 months and we are specifying them with the extra glass door,” Good explains.

TfL launched a consultation in January this year under previous mayor Boris Johnson’s regime looking at whether lorries entering London should be required to be retrofitted with additional passenger door windows. The results have yet to be published.

Cameras and screens are a ‘great aid’

Keltbray was also first in line to trial Scania’s new Urban Tipper demonstration vehicle, shown at this year’s Tip-ex show in Harrogate, which features full air suspension, enabling the chassis to be lowered in urban environments to provide better direct vision for drivers.

Good says that when it comes to vulnerable road users protection safety equipment, a nearside camera and screen is also a great aid to drivers as it enables them to see down the entire length of the vehicle.

Keltbray has also been trialling the DawesGuard vulnerable road user protection system on its fleet, which Good says the drivers like as it is simple to operate via the flick of a switch, in addition to the Dawes PeoplePanel that fits over existing under-run bars to reduce risk of entanglement of clothing or bicycle parts.

Monitoring all equipment

Technology firm Brigade Electronics fully acknowledges the difficult task drivers have in monitoring all their mirrors and equipment in busy cities.

“Even when manoeuvring at low speed, a vehicle can travel a long way in the time it takes for a driver to check each potential hazard area in turn before returning his eyes back to the road ahead,” explains business development manager James Ashford.

“The vehicle can travel even further while the driver assesses the potential risks in these areas and reacts accordingly.”

To tackle this challenge, Brigade developed its Backeye 360 system. It eliminates blind spots by producing an all-round view of the entire vehicle in one image. “This saves the driver or operator from having to process information from several mirrors or monitors in quick succession, making it easier to spot and assess possible hazards,” he adds.

View from the frontline

Freightinthecity asked professional drivers’ forum Trucknet whether in-cab technology was a blessing or a blight, and how city operations had changed over the past 10 years. Here are some responses:

  • Glancing at a blind spot camera is no more distracting than glancing in a mirror (and a lot more helpful and useful than a mirror if on a left hooker for instance). Checking a sat-nav is a lot less distracting than reading an A-to-Z while driving, and the sat-nav audible warning is no more or less distracting than a radio. It all depends on the individual driver and how he copes with his own personal perceived level of distraction.
  • Modern vehicles (usually) have at least six mirrors, often, a Fresnel Lens, cameras… the list goes on. But – and it’s a big but – drivers still only have two eyes and two ears. I fully appreciate that this oversight is all our fault [lorry drivers], but c’est la vie.
  • It was definitely easier 10 years ago. Most people doing town centre deliveries had FM and P cabs – nice and low etc. Now the trend seems to be bigger trucks with worse vision. I think the cameras are a welcome addition and not much of a distraction.
  • We’ve already got six mirrors, two side windows and a windscreen to look at/through – how many more cameras/monitors do we need? It doesn’t matter how you design a vehicle, you will still get people trying to sneak up the inside, outside, front and rear. Bring back cycling proficiency lessons in schools.
  • A rearward-facing camera is dynamite – it’s on permanently and is not a distraction at all. You can keep the audible warnings and blinking lights, however, as they are a distraction.
  • New mirror designs have created their own blind spots. When approaching a roundabout, it is now possible for a car approaching the same roundabout from the right to be hidden from view by the mirror.


Smith & Sons (Bletchington) makes Brigade part of its standard tipper spec

Smiths & Sons (Bletchington) is now fitting Brigade safety systems as a part of its standard specification for all new tippers.

Smiths & Sons has specified Brigade’s Backeye 360 sidescan system and mobile digital recording device for new tippers joining its 35-strong fleet.

Already four have joined the mixed fleet with the new specification, with another four tippers featuring the Brigade equipment due in the coming weeks.

Paul Needle, transport manager at the firm, said: “In the past we have been actively involved in vehicle safety days around Oxford and we were also involved in the launch of the Mineral Product Association’s cycle safety scheme.

“Smiths are very proactive when it comes to vulnerable road user safety and having trialled various vehicle camera systems; we were the first tipper operator to fit the Backeye 360 system.”

Needle said the firm had first trialled the camera system back in 2011, and with nine of its fleet now featuring the system along with sidescan and recording equipment, it had decided to make its latest commitment to safety.

He added that compared with previous split-screen camera systems the firm has tried “drivers like it as everything is on one screen”, helping address the issue of driver overload.

Backeye 360 is a camera system that provides the driver with an all-round view of the vehicle in a single image on a cab-monitor, stitching together an image from four camera feeds from around the truck.

WH Bowker fits extra nearside windows to 12 new Volvo FM rigids

WH Bowker has opted for additional nearside windows to be fitted to 12 new Volvo FM 330 6×2 rigids joining its fleet to boost road safety for vulnerable road users.

The Lancashire-based firm said the enhanced direct vision for drivers on the vehicle’s nearside, as well as redesigned mirror housings on the latest FMs, would help reduce blind spots.

Director Bill Bowker added: “Volvo’s reputation for producing a safe vehicle continues to be paramount in our decision to operate a single make fleet. Our drivers take part in training to help their awareness of vulnerable road users, particularly when delivering to, or transiting the urban environment. We are supporters of Clocs and the company is Fors Silver accredited.”

The 12 Globetrotter-cabbed rigids will join 13 new FH 500 tractor units on WH Bowker’s 120-strong all-Volvo fleet. The latter are equipped as standard with AEBS, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Keeping System.

Bowker said: ”The Volvo system is specified over and above the legislated standard as it includes a radar function and a head up warning display for the driver that not all other manufacturers can offer. In my opinion, this manifests and supports Volvo’s position as the manufacturer whose core values revolve around safety for drivers and other road users.”

All 25 new trucks were supplied by Thomas Hardie Commercials in Preston.


London primary children taught HGV road safety awareness

O’Donovan Waste Disposal took part in an HGV awareness event at the Sir John Cass Foundation Primary School last week, teaching children how to stay safe around lorries on London’s busy roads.

The Tottenham-based operator provided two lorries for an Exchanging Places session at the school, run by the Metropolitan and City of London Police forces, which puts cyclists in the cab of a lorry to learn the driver’s perspective.

Throughout the event, which formed part of the City of London Corporation’s Road Safety Day, 180 children – aged between 5-11 years old – took part in both classroom and playground-based activities designed to teach them the importance of road safety.

In addition to Exchanging Places, the children got involved in activities including cycle skills, road safety quizzes and magic tricks.

odonovan2O’Donovan provided two lorries for the children to experience – a 1966 Leyland AEC and a current Scania High Cab tipper – to show the children first-hand how innovation has led to improved safety features in lorries to keep vulnerable road users safer.

MD Jacqueline O’Donovan said: “It’s vital we educate children about road safety and, as a progressive company known for bold decisions, we are keen to ensure we are making the best choices to help further protect vulnerable road users – and this includes an education process for the younger generation.”

She added: “We continue to make significant ongoing investments in our fleet and drivers to ensure that we are in the best possible position to do this.”