Initiative to Develop “Line of Sight” Ratings for Large Vehicle Blind Spots – Safety and Compliance
Drivers of trucks, buses and other large vehicles must be able to see ‘vulnerable road users’, such as pedestrians, say proponents of a new ‘line-of-sight cab design’ standard underway of elaboration.
Together for Safer Roads, through its Global Leadership Council for Fleet Safety, is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center and TSR members such as Republic Services to make line-of-sight cab design a industry standard. the fleet industry in the United States.
The initiative will provide fleet managers and operators with data and analysis on the safety – or dangerousness – of vehicles in relation to driver blind spots, including the development of a standard for rating vehicles and a baseline data from these assessments.
Direct-view cabs reduce or completely eliminate driver blind spots, according to the ad. Currently, the vast majority of commercial trucks available in the United States do not offer direct vision, the organization said, “despite estimates that a quarter of the more than 500 pedestrian and cyclist fatalities each year that involve large trucks traveling at low speeds could be prevented by line-of-sight cabs.
A grant was awarded by the Santos Family Foundation to support TSR’s work to make line-of-sight cabs the industry standard for commercial trucks.
Developing Direct Vision Assessments
TSR aims to make line-of-sight cabin design the standard by showcasing the benefits of a line-of-sight standard and self-certification process.
TSR plans to partner with fleet leaders to pilot direct vision assessment standards and initiate the self-certification process to demonstrate truck safety. Its goal is for fleets to make standards and certification an industry best practice, with supporting research shared between public and private sector fleets to prove the benefits of direct vision.
The standard and certification are based on research from the Volpe Center, whose mission is to address the nation’s most pressing and complex transportation challenges. It will introduce new tools such as the Volpe Center’s “View” app (Visibility in Elevated Wide vehicles), a smartphone app that fleets can use to measure blind spots on their vehicles.
Together for Safer Roads and the Volpe Center are partnering to use the View app to rate commercial trucks and create a database of vision ratings for dozens or even hundreds of models.
View is a low-cost web application prototyped by students at Olin College of Engineering, who were sponsored by the Santos Family Foundation and worked under the guidance of experts at the Volpe Center. Data for View is collected with a standard smartphone, measuring stick and camera mount. The web application calculates a line-of-sight rating based on the visible space near the truck cab.
In 2018, the Volpe Center, Together for Safer Roads, and waste disposal company Republic Services held a demonstration of the View system.
The Santos Family Foundation has also provided grants to the Volpe Center to develop and refine applications that facilitate direct vision assessment for trucks and large passenger vehicle cabs.
As part of the standards development and certification process, TSR and the Volpe Center will distribute data and analysis to government regulators, car and truck manufacturers, fleet managers and drivers to promote the need for cabs to direct view.
Although several automakers already sell direct-view cab designs in Europe, few are available for fleets in the United States or other parts of the world. TSR intends to show manufacturers the untapped potential of direct-vision trucks in the US market and beyond, with work already underway through a public-private partnership that includes organizations such as:
- New York City, which operates the world’s largest sanitation service and is committed to making line-of-sight trucks the norm.
- Republic Services, a member of TSR, one of the largest waste management companies in the United States, which is researching changing its procurement specifications to require line-of-sight cabins.
- The National Waste and Recycling Association, which participates in discussions led by TSR around the direct vision.
The New York City plan notes that “large trucks can be configured with cabs that allow the driver the greatest possible amount of direct vision and minimize the need to rely on indirect vision through mirrors, cameras and other devices. Truck cabs should be placed as low to the ground as possible and include glazing that extends as far forward and to the sides as possible – for example, full-height, fully glazed entry doors similar to those in DSNY collectors. Wherever possible, trucks should be equipped with an over-engine cab, or a conventional sloping hood to minimize the front blind spot. »
Protecting “vulnerable road users”
The TSR is not the only organization concerned about the blind spots of large vehicles which can hide pedestrians, cyclists and other “vulnerable road users”.
The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended for years that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration require medium and heavy trucks to be “equipped with visibility enhancement systems to improve tractor-trailer drivers’ ability to detect passenger vehicles.” and vulnerable people”. road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
In 2019, the NTSB reported that data showed that large vehicles pose a specific problem for bicycle safety, especially in urban areas where large vehicles travel close to cyclists and other vulnerable road users. .
The NTSB reviewed data from 2014 to 2017 and found that 511 cyclists were involved in crashes involving transit operations. Among them, 374 cyclists, or 73%, collided with public transport buses. Twenty-three cyclists, or 6%, died in these accidents.
In 2013, the NTSB report, “Crashes Involving Single-Unit Trucks that Resulted in Injuries and Deaths”, concluded that on-board systems and equipment that compensate for blind spots and allow drivers of single-unit trucks to detect road users vulnerable could prevent the deaths and injuries that occur in accidents involving single-unit trucks. These systems and equipment could include enhanced mirror systems or sensors that can alert drivers if there is another vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian in the blind spot after the driver activates the turn signal.