Improving vehicle safety

The manoeuvring of any vehicle creates potential dangers, but the reversing manoeuvre of those vehicles (predominantly commercial) with restricted or no rear vision is particularly dangerous.  The blind spot behind vehicles is deceptively large.  For example the blind spot behind an average rigid body 18 tonne lorry can be more than 150 ft for a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist.

Blindspots

Just think – however considerate you are –  would you leave a gap of more than 150ft between you & a  lorry when you stop behind it?  Probably not, because if you did the car behind you would probably think you were stopping for another reason and drive around you to fill in the gap!

Yet the reality is that the driver of that lorry may have no knowledge that you are behind him, as he is reliant on his mirrors which cannot cover the area immediately behind him.  This horrific picture shows a pushchair which was crushed by a reversing lorry – thankfully the baby was rescued unhurt!

Crushed pushchair

www.RearView.org.uk  was set up following the horrific death of Mike Ellis in 2012.  Mike died when he was behind a lorry on a one-way road.  Realising that he had missed his turning, the lorry driver decided to reverse back to the turning he had missed, with no rear vision and without stopping to think or check behind him.  What he hadn’t realised was that a motorcycle, ridden by Mike was now behind him on a downhill slope, with no reverse gear and a heavy bike to try and manoeuvre out of the way.  Despite the reversing alarm, Mike had neither the time nor ability to get out of the way and as a result was knocked down and dragged beneath the wheels of the lorry for more than 100m. Only when the lorry driver saw the wheels of the motorbike sticking out from beneath the wheels of the lorry, did he stop.  Mike had been dragged and crushed beneath the wheels of the 18 tonne lorry and was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple injuries.

Had this lorry had a rear view camera and/or sensors fitted, he would most likely have been alerted to the fact that someone was behind him and this avoidable and horrific death would not have happened.

Rear view cameras and other technology have been around for more than 20 years and provide unparalleled alerts to potential hazards which cannot be seen/detected by standard & statutory measures currently required by law. While cost is always a consideration, anyone who has lost someone knows that you cannot place a value on the life of a person.  In reality and with the progress of technology, these safety solutions are both affordable and capable of standing up to the most rigorous cost/benefit analysis.

RearView has no wish to promote any particular product or supplier, but does want to encourage you to investigate the available technologies that exist and is happy to recommend the following companies which can provide such advice and products :

Brigade Electronics Ltd  www.Brigade-Electronics.com 

Ecco Safety Group  www.eccolink.com

Sentinel Systems Ltd www.reversewithsafety.com

Before dismissing the cost of this technology, it is worth factoring in the loss of time for the vehicle and driver being off the road following an incident, not to mention the increased insurance premiums and bad commercial exposure which any such incident may result in.  Investing a small amount in this technology can prevent these accidents, save costs and most importantly SAVE LIVES.

Reversing Aids Technology

There are many types, designs and makes of reversing technology available today and RearView does not intend to try and summarise them all.  However, it is hoped that in the next few paragraphs, we can highlight the types of systems available. RearView encourages you to seek professional advice from companies with direct experience in these markets.

Reversing alarms

Reversing alarms are not compulsory, except in specific sectors where the rear of the vehicle is viewed as a ‘work area’ or in certain workplace situations.  However, whilst these alarms do not assist the driver directly in alerting them to dangers to the rear of the vehicle, they do at least serve as a warning to other road users.  In reality, it is vital that the driver leaves an adequate amount of time between engaging reverse and before beginning the manoeuvre, to allow the other road user sufficient time to remove themselves from danger, so they are an aid rather than a solution.

Vehicle Cameras

There are many different types of cameras on the market and it is important to find the appropriate one for the type of vehicle you have.

360⁰ Vision – the latest technology provides an incredible 360⁰ vision around the vehicle.  There are various manufacturers supplying this type of system which uses multiple cameras positioned on the vehicle to create either one image on a small screen in the cab or four separate images, giving the driver an apparent birds-eye view of any people/obstacles/vehicles in the immediate vicinity around the vehicle.  To their credit, Sainsburys recently unveiled a real trail-blazer vehicle http://bit.ly/1oavfAA incorporating this type of system along with other safety features to protect cyclists, pedestrians other vulnerable road users.  Let’s hope they follow it through and get as many of these vehicles on the road as possible!

Reversing cameras – typically set up with a screen in the cab which only shows the rear of the vehicle when reverse gear is engaged, some also come with the ability to hear what is happening behind as well.  There are many designs of reversing cameras available and RearView recommends that you take professional advice as to the most suitable for your vehicle.

Reversing Sensors

Available with both audible and visual warnings, the variety of sensors available can help detect obstacles to the rear of the vehicle, alerting the driver to potential hazards in the vicinity.  Whilst these alone will not eliminate the risk of a collision, they can be an important part of warning the driver that it is not safe to reverse

Obstacle detection

Whilst the focus of the campaign is on reversing safety, RearView would also like to encourage to think about improving all aspects of vehicle safety and this includes along the sides of the vehicle, where cyclists are particularly vulnerable.  There are many sensor/detection systems now available to alert the driver to a potential hazard alongside the vehicle, particularly when making a left hand turn.  The Crossrail project in London is setting an example by requiring all contractors lorries to meet minimum safety equipment requirements including blind spot proximity sensors, side under-run guards and warning alerts for cyclists.  For more information please visit www.crossrail.co.uk