Best practices to improve heavy vehicle safety in urban freight

Heavy vehicle safety accreditation schemes exist within the UK for road safety in urban freight. These schemes are supported by a regulatory framework requiring minimum standards for road transport operators. Cities such as London and New York have introduced local regulations to improve the safety of heavy vehicles through requirements for improved driver field of view and underrun protection. 

Professional driver training and competency standards in the European Union equip drivers with safety-critical knowledge and skills to support technical driving skills. Training programs have been developed. Cities have invested in sustainable methods of urban logistics which provide indirect benefits of improving road safety by optimizing deliveries through reducing, retiming or rerouting heavy vehicle movements in urban freight. The improvements in road safety require leadership and collective commitment from government agencies, regulatory authorities and industry champions to influence change.

The NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust Churchill Fellowship investigated best practices to improve heavy vehicle safety in Australian urban freight (in the UK, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg, USA). The following key recommendations are provided from the Fellowship for Australia:

  • Heavy vehicle accreditation schemes should be based on the road safety management system framework removing the focus from meeting minimum compliance requirements.
  • Australian design rules should be amended to require Class VI mirrors for all cab-over-engine heavy vehicles and cross-over mirrors for all conventional heavy vehicles >12 t GVM.
  • State and/or local governments should consider the introduction of local access regulations requiring improved visibility to the front and sides of heavy urban freight vehicles.
  • The current definition of ‘fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle’ should include all heavy vehicles above 4.5t in Australia and remove exemptions for ‘local work’ within 100km radius as such ‘local work’ is largely carried out in urban areas.
  • Side and rear underrun protection should be mandatory for heavy vehicles and trailers, where rear underrun protection strength standards of ADR 91/00 should exceed those in UNECE R 58.
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) should be mandatory for all heavy vehicles. This must include all rigid vehicles due to the higher proportion involved in urban freight and the most prevalent type in crashes.
  • Width exemptions under the Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation should be amended to allow for new safety technology such as radar sensors.
  • Driver training and competency framework should be expanded to include issues beyond technical aspects of driving to factors that influence safe operation and aspects critical to the safe urban driving task.
  • Sustainable methods of transport and logistics should be trialed and adopted to reduce the impacts of construction heavy vehicles in urban freight.

Implementing the recommendations from this Fellowship will certainly contribute to strengthening the multiple protective layers that make up Australia’s Safe System, says Michael Holmes, a fellow of the Churchill fellowship.

Source: Michael Holmes

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