Commercial vehicles have been a topic of discussion a lot in recent years.
There are rising concerns over the safety of our roads and pollution levels in cities are rising – which has often resulted in blame being directed at the commercial vehicle industries. But are these accusations correctly founded and if so what is being done about it?
Pollution on the Rise
As the UK government announced its decision to try and ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, fingers were pointed at HGVs as the main sources of pollution on urban areas. This was worsened by the fact that there is lots of traffic directed into the cities, particularly with large construction projects such as CrossRail taking place in multiple locations across London. Despite claims that HGVs aren’t the worst polluters, it is still a large factor in congestion and the levels of pollution need to be reduced on a large scale.
What is available?
In alternative fuel vehicles, Electric seems to be largest alternative in development currently. Electric trucks are currently being developed and tested by manufacturers such as BMW, Tesla, Daimler and Mercedes-Benz. Positive results have been observed in reducing the pollution levels compared to classic petrol and diesel vehicles and it seems to be a step in the right direction. However, issues to remain around electric vehicles as they require charging infrastructure and arguments have been made that pollution is just pushed up-stream to power plants.
Another area of development that has come to light is Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicles. The upside of CNG vehicles is that they are much cleaner, with gases such as biomethane offering complete renewability and reduce city pollution just as effectively. The downside to CNG is that new infrastructure is also required in the form new fuel stations.
Both CNG and Electric trucks are limited so far as there is a large gap between the distances they can travel and current petrol and diesel vehicles. It is hoped that, with the amount of investment into alternative fuel sources, that this gap can be significantly reduced. With a recent announcement to create a Europe-wide electric charging network, funded by a group venture from several lorry manufacturers, that running HGVs on electricity can be the solution to the pollution problem.
Road Incidents on the Rise
Road safety incidents in cities are on the rise. What is worse is that it is the number of cyclists and pedestrian deaths that is rising the most. This is a problem that must be tackled, and a lot is being done by governing bodies such as FORS and CLOCs to help do so. Often, it is a lack of visibility in cornering and manoeuvring that is responsible for deaths, rather than poor driving. Because of this lots of safety features are now becoming mandatory in compliance standards – notably for all vehicles taking part in the Crossrail project. Some of the common features now becoming compulsory for operating standards are:
- Bigger windows
- Lower cab heights
- Alarms for turning and reversing
- Proximity sensors
- CCTV systems built into the vehicles themselves
How are these being introduced?
A lot of systems are now being integrated when the vehicles are built, with manufacturers such as DAF and Dennis Eagle producing ‘Urban Safe’ Vehicles featuring integrated road safety systems. These vehicles are designed to reduce all the risks associated with operating in an congested urban area. It is also possible to have these features installed post-production. There are multiple companies that provide combinations of safety features for installation and work with specific clients to deliver for their needs. Not only do these systems help to improve the safety of roads but provide a lot of benefits elsewhere too, such as reduced insurance premiums and lowering the number of claims against drivers.
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