European regulation ECE104 regarding HGV safety markings came into force in October 2008 and affected new vehicles, but the legislation is being extended to cover all existing ‘type approved’ HGVs over a certain weight next year. However, a number of drivers and operators are not complying with the requirements according to Simon Smedley, MD of HGV Direct. "Although we sell HGV parts from our website, we also have 7 branches throughout the Midlands and North West, with five of them offering servicing – which means that our staff get to meet our customers face to face and see their vehicles. Fines for non-compliance can be sizeable, it makes sense to ensure that your truck is correctly ‘marked’. At the moment, the legislation only applies to new ‘type approved’ HGVs, but in 2011 it may apply to all HGVs. Unless drivers are made aware now, they could be in hot water next year. Should an HGV be involved in an accident and not be compliant, the consequences can be unthinkable."
The legislation will apply to ‘type approved’ HGVs with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) above 7.5 tonnes and trailers with a GVW above 3.5 tonnes operating in the UK and Europe from July 2011. The reflective tape is available for rigid or curtain sided vehicles and is visible at nights to drivers 1000m away. The red tape is retro-reflective to make the vehicle visible at night, the yellow is fluorescent and is highly conspicuous in daylight and poor/failing light. White reflective tape is also available for the front of the vehicle.
Simon adds, "There are around 600 fatal accidents a year in the UK involving HGVs in rear or side impact with another vehicle. Research suggests that up to 12% of these could have been avoided if conspicuity marking tape had been fitted. It is estimated that 40% of road accidents occur during twilight, night and dawn, despite the fact that less than one third of traffic is on the road during these hours. Not only does conspicuity tape increase a vehicle’s visibility at night and in low light but it also enables other drivers to more accurately assess a vehicle’s speed and direction relative to their own. Regardless of regulations or whether your fleet falls within the scope of the regulations, it makes good safety sense to improve the visibility of your trailers. Considering that a 12.5m roll of non ECE104 conspicuity tape can be purchased for just £28.80, the cost will be more than offset by the hassle factor of dealing with an accident."