The European Union has introduced regulations designed to increase lorry safety by improving the standards of drivers' mirrors. Directive 2007/38/EC requires certain vehicles over 3.5 tonnes to be retrofitted with proper devices in order to improve the driver's field of vision. The deadline for retrofit of mirrors or other devices is 31 March 2009 and the Freight Transport Association has now published a Compliance Guide 'Retrofitting of mirrors to hgvs', outlining the new regulations and the actions which lorry operators and drivers should take in order to meet them.
The directive aims to improve the safety of road users, in particular vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. This group bears a greater risk of being involved in accidents with large goods vehicles, which have a blind spot on the passenger side. There have been many accidents where pedestrians and riders have been struck by goods vehicles after entering the road space on the inside of the vehicle and into the driver's blind spot.
Previous legislation making an improved set of mirrors mandatory from 2007 onwards for new large vehicles is already in place. However, existing trucks remain in circulation without any improvement of their field of indirect vision. The new directive extends the requirements for the field of indirect vision to the existing fleet of large goods vehicles.
FTA Director of External Affairs Geoff Dossetter said, 'The new generation of mirrors considerably improves the lorry driver's field of vision and reduces blind spots, to the benefit of himself and other road users. Over many years there have been tragic accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists moving along the inside of a heavy vehicle but totally unseen by the driver. The consequences of the lorry driver turning left, or simply adjusting his line on the road and into the path of the unseen pedestrian or rider, are obvious.
'Despite the benefits of the new mirror technology, the advice to all road users remains to take the utmost care when in the vicinity of heavy lorries. Whether slow moving in an urban situation or on a motorway or trunk road, give the lorry plenty of room and expect the unexpected.'
On a mile-for-mile basis lorries and vans are involved in considerably fewer accidents than any other category of vehicle.
The new FTA Compliance Guide provides comprehensive information on the legislation itself, advice relating to field of vision, requirements for retrofit and a series of questions and answers.
The guide is available to FTA members on the FTA website www.fta.co.uk or from the FTA Member Service Centre on 08717 11 22 22. Non-members of FTA should apply to the FTA Member Service Centre. For further advice or guidance on the subject of lorry mirrors, FTA members should contact the FTA Member Advice Centre on 0870 605 0000.