Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Two Separate Reports on Road Safety Point Out Problems with HGVs and the Need to Eliminate Risks

Death Rates Show Better Management, Infrastructure and Regulation are Needed to Cut Casualties
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – WORLDWIDE – Perhaps, as traffic levels begin to return to more normal rates, it is a good time to examine two recently published reports, both of which aim to highlight and inform regarding the risks run on the road every day, particularly by professionals in the haulage and logistics sectors.

Firstly the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has authored a study which shows that around 25% of road deaths in the European Union are the consequence of a collision involving a goods vehicle. According to the new analysis, 3310 people lost their lives in police-reported road collisions involving a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) of 3.5 tonnes or above in the 27 countries of the EU in 2018. In the same year, 2630 people were killed in collisions involving a light goods vehicle (LGV) of less than 3.5 tonnes.

One aspect which the ETSC finds particularly troubling, unsurprising given the potential for mass collateral damage, are those incidents involving heavy goods vehicles. The data show that on a per-kilometre basis, many more people die in collisions involving HGVs than die in collisions involving only non-goods vehicles. Over the nine years covered by the report, deaths in collisions involving HGVs have also been reduced more slowly than those in collisions involving only non-goods vehicles.

Since 2010, in the EU, deaths in collisions involving an HGV have been reduced by, on average, 1.8% annually compared to a 2.8% reduction in the number of road deaths in collisions where no type of goods vehicle was involved. Last year the EU agreed to increase the minimum safety standards for new lorries from 2026 by, for example, enabling drivers to see other road users more easily through larger windscreens and transparent panels in doors, and by requiring pedestrian and cyclist detection systems.

Some cities, like London, have already put in place Driver Vision Standards, all vehicles exceeding 12 tonnes having to obtain a permit using parameters to decide which vehicles conform, and with a £550 penalty for transgressors. This has infuriated sections of the road haulage lobby after standards for London were introduced and subsequently changed, whilst detailed technical specifications for the EU standards are currently being worked out and may differ substantially from those in the British capital leaving the possibility of incompatibility.

ETSC however applauds such individual schemes and recommends local authorities follow the example of cities like London, by granting lorries access to city centres based on their level of safety. ETSC is also calling for road infrastructure that better protects vulnerable road users from interaction with goods vehicles, such as separated cycle lanes. Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC commented:

“In the last few weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen cities across Europe rapidly adapting road infrastructure to meet increased demand for cycling and walking. This shows how relatively simple it is to introduce life-saving measures, and also how important political will is to making change happen quickly.

“Road deaths kill a million people globally every year. This new public health crisis brings with it an opportunity to remake our transport system in a way that boosts health, reduces injury and frees up much-needed capacity in our health systems for the long term.”

ETSC is also recommending a range of other measures to increase safety in goods transport covering the main risks of inappropriate speed, drink driving, fatigue, distraction and failure to wear a seatbelt. The recommendations cover EU institutions, EU member states, other European governments as well as local authorities. UK data has been excluded from the report’s aggregate data due to Britain’s exit from the EU.

However UK data is included in the report as the UK continues to participate in the ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) programme, alongside 27 EU and 5 other non-EU countries. ETSC’s Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) programme receives financial support from the German Road Safety Council (DVR), Toyota Motor Europe, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and CITA - the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee.

Like ETSC, Global Fleet Champions (GFC), a partnership headed by road safety charity Brake, is a non-profit making organisation dedicated to reducing the numbers of deaths and injuries in transport, but concentrating on those operations with road fleets of all types and sizes. GFC has published its own guidance for subscribers which stresses that driver error contributes to many crashes and is often the main cause.

The report, based on a webinar for fleet professionals, covers key behaviour-related hazards which sound similar to the ETSC aspirations to improve safety standards, namely such as speeding, drink- and drug-driving, and driving while fatigued or stressed. Speaking of the report Mark Sherman, commercial motor manager at Allianz Insurance, said:

“Implementing and communicating the right organisational culture is critical if businesses are to manage and improve poor driver behaviour. Understanding what drives poor behaviour allows employers to consider necessary steps to mitigate poor driver performance and protect the business against potential Corporate Manslaughter prosecution.”

The document contains a variety of professional inputs, Mark Sherman discusses the causes and consequences of dangerous driving behaviours and how fleets can improve them, while Professor Divera Twisk, from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, outlines the essential elements of building an effective driver training course.

Professional driver trainer Louise Shannon, of Road Safety Prospects, provides advice about the medical conditions that may impair drivers’ capacity to safely control their vehicles, and Mike Hemming from Masternaut shares how data can inform behavioural change strategies, whilst Jim Noble, vice president, risk engineering at eDriving, also discusses the five key sections of an effective fleet safety policy, and how these policies should form the foundation of any programme to manage work-related road risk. Sarah Plumb, senior fleet officer at Brake, the road safety charity, said:

“Making sure drivers are behaving safely is central to road safety management. Fleets need to adopt a comprehensive approach to managing driver behaviour that demonstrates their commitment to looking after their drivers, other road users and local communities alike.”