Direct Vision Standard 2024
In an era of ever-increasing road traffic accidents involving heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and vulnerable road users (VRUs), the pursuit of innovative solutions is more critical than ever. Transport for London (TfL), recognizing the alarming statistics, took a proactive approach by commissioning research conducted by the Loughborough Design School (LDS). The study aimed to address the root causes of these accidents, specifically focusing on the issues of “failed to look properly” and “vehicle blind spots.” What emerged from this research is a groundbreaking concept – the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for HGVs, which promises to revolutionize HGV design and safety by prioritizing direct vision over mirrors.
The Birth of DVS: Redefining HGV Safety
LDS embarked on an iterative design journey, contemplating various specifications to assess the area around the HGV cab. Drawing from collision data involving VRUs and utilizing weightings to prioritize critical zones, they ultimately settled on a single unweighted zone around the cab. This choice was aligned with the mirror coverage specified in UNECE regulation 46, aiming to enhance direct vision.
The core idea was simple yet brilliant – to enhance the driver’s direct view of their surroundings. promoting a safer, more efficient means of HGV operation.
VRU Simulation and Star Ratings
A pivotal part of this research was the VRU simulation. Researchers moved VRUs laterally until the driver could see their head and shoulders, establishing an average distance at which the VRU became visible. These simulations served a dual purpose: to offer context for volumetric results and to translate this data into star ratings.
Star ratings played a crucial role in this research, offering a clear and comprehensible measure of an HGV’s direct vision performance. Two approaches were employed – the absolute and relative approaches. The absolute approach set specific threshold values based on VRU simulation distances for each star rating. Meanwhile, the relative approach relied on the median volumetric result. The final approach used VRU simulation distances for a 5th percentile Italian female to define the 1-star boundary. HGVs achieving direct vision of VRUs at specific distances received a 1-star rating or higher, with ratings extending up to 5 stars.
Outcomes and Impact
The groundbreaking research yielded three significant outcomes that hold the potential to redefine road safety:
1. The Direct Vision Standard (DVS)
The DVS system is a groundbreaking benchmark that enhances the direct vision of HGVs. Greatly improving safety for VRUs and making the roads a safer place for everyone.
2. Volumetric Analysis Method
The researchers developed a robust, repeatable, and validated method for the volumetric analysis of direct vision performance. This methodology is based on CAD-based processes and enables accurate assessment and comparison of HGVs’ direct vision capabilities, setting a new standard for safety evaluation.
3. Star Ratings for HGVs
The research offered clear star ratings for the majority of the Euro 6 N3/N3G HGV fleet. These ratings serve as a reflection of the current state of direct vision in these vehicles. They not only help stakeholders and consumers assess HGV safety easily but also incentivize manufacturers to prioritize direct vision in their designs, thereby raising the bar for safety in the industry.
In conclusion, the pioneering research conducted by the Loughborough Design School, on behalf of Transport for London, is a remarkable leap forward in the quest for improved road safety, particularly for vulnerable road users. The establishment of the Direct Vision Standard and the development of a reliable methodology for assessing HGVs’ direct vision performance have the potential to reduce accidents and save lives on the road. Moreover, the star ratings system provides a user-friendly and transparent way for all stakeholders to evaluate HGV safety, pushing manufacturers to prioritize direct vision. This work is not just groundbreaking; it’s a revolution in the making, one that can make our roads safer for everyone.