European cities in EU truck design safety push

Initiatives urged to protect cyclists and pedestrians in urban settings

European cities in EU truck design safety push
The impact of commercial vehicles on cyclists and pedestrians is a concern for certain European cities


An alliance of 18 European cities has petitioned the European Commission (EC) to include tighter truck safety developments, along with those aimed at cars and vans.

City governments have significant power over the types of vehicles allowed on their roads and European truck makers take their concerns very seriously.

The cities acknowledge the importance of trucks and trucking but want designs fit for purpose in their environs and want consistent European Union-wide rules to cover them.

"A modern and vibrant city cannot do without trucks – they’re needed, for example, to supply retailers and for construction projects," the cities write.

"But today’s trucks are very ill-designed for urban environments. They have poor direct vision and therefore huge and deadly blind spots. If crashes occur they are usually fatal.

"Fortunately, there are solutions: many European manufacturers already supply low entry cabin trucks that have excellent direct vision.

"Many cities are encouraging their use through public procurement or as part of tenders. Others are introducing rules that ban some of the most dangerous trucks. But local initiatives lack the scale to have a significant impact on the availability and cost of safer trucks.

"Moreover, there is a risk that cities across Europe will adopt different schemes, potentially imposing costs on hauliers and their customers which could be avoided if basic vehicle design prioritised safety."

The cities want a European direct vision standard that would make safer designs compulsory, at least for trucks most commonly used in urban areas, and ambitious direct vision requirements for other types.

"With appropriate differentiation between truck types and, if necessary, a phase-in period, we believe mandatory requirements can be realistically introduced from the early 2020s," the cities continue.

The EC conducted a public consultation on the revision of the Vehicle General Safety Regulation and the Pedestrian Safety Regulation in the second half of this year.

It is considering 19 specific vehicle safety measures aimed at introducing "new standard equipment and improved safety performance of vehicles and have the potential to save lives on EU roads, by becoming mandatory features on cars, light commercial vehicles, buses, trucks and trailers".

Measures specifically for trucks, trailers and buses include:

  • Front-end design and direct vision - To protect pedestrians and cyclists involved in collisions, via blind spot camera/monitoring systems paired with detection capability of pedestrians and cyclists around the cab, to the introduction of requirements covering the direct vision of the driver
  • Truck and trailer rear underrun protection (rear bumper) – Upgrading of the required bumper strength to prevent passenger cars from sliding under the rear end of trucks and trailers Truck lateral protection (side guards) - significant reduction of exemptions that are currently permitted, notably for off-road vehicles Fire safety for buses – CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) powered vehicles blow-off valve location/orientation and automatic fire extinguishers

General safety measure involving commercial vehicles include:

  • Frontal crash testing updates – introduction of full width crash test for better restraint systems protecting older and smaller occupants, removal of crash test exemption for heavier passenger cars (SUVs) and introduction of crash testing for light commercial vehicles (delivery vans).
  • Tyre pressure monitoring - reporting tyre-pressure information to the driver of the vehicle via gauge or warning lamp, expansion from passenger cars (currently mandatory) to all motor vehicles and heavy trailers.

Details on the consultation can be found here.


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