Lorries not equipped with advanced safety mirrors will be banned from the streets of London to enhance the safety of cyclists, but a safety campaigner says the proposed technology may do more harm than good.
According to the new Safer Lorry Scheme proposed by Transport for London, all lorries and vehicles above 3.5 tonnes will be obliged to have advanced safety mirrors installed in order to be permitted on the streets of the city.
The required safety equipment includes Class V mirrors reflecting the area to the side of the driver’s cabin and Class VI mirrors allowing the driver to see the area directly in front of the cabin. Side guards protecting cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision will also have to be installed on the vehicles to help cut the number of cyclists killed by lorries.
However, safety campaigner Christopher Hanson-Abbott says the proposed technology may actually do more harm than good, suggesting that while the technology may eliminate blind spots it also contributes to the information overload that drivers in the city are already suffering from.
“The Safer Lorry Scheme - all very well in theory with its criss-crossing sightlines, its multiple cameras displaying multiple images on multiple screens, its acoustic warnings demanding attention to one sensor detection after another - is prone to overwhelm a driver in sole charge of a heavy-wheeled load travelling on a crowded road,” Hanson-Abbott said.
The campaigner and founder of SteerSafe said processing visual images from multiple sources at once can be very confusing and takes a long time, disorienting the driver and even causing dizziness.
Instead, Hanson-Abbott proposes that the scheme’s drafting committee should consider the 360-degree technology already in the market, providing a continuous bird’s eye view all around the vehicle.
The Safer Lorry Scheme, which came into force on September 1 2015, will operate across London, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, covering the same area as the Low Emission Zone.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Transport for London hope the scheme will reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on London's roads by 40 per cent by 2020, especially pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
In 2013, heavy goods vehicles were involved in 9 out of 14 incidents leading to cyclist fatalities.