The transportation industry heavily relies on Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) for efficient goods transportation over long distances. Between 1994 and 2022, there has been a notable surge in the number of licensed HGV vehicles on the road. Department for Transport (DfT) and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) reported that in 2022, there were over 511,000 vehicles in operation, demonstrating a substantial increase over the years. Due to their large size and weight, HGVs present unique safety challenges. However, during the same period, the number of HGV related road fatalities decreased by over 75%.
Although, factors such as attitudes towards drink driving, and medical treatments may have contributed, there have been several significant advancements in safety features over the years. All with the aim of mitigating risks and improving overall road safety. As a result, data shows that as these safety advancements have increased, the number of HGV collisions have steadily decreased. This article explores the evolution of safety features and the role they have played in mitigating these collisions.
One of the earliest safety features introduced was the compulsory use of seatbelts. This simple yet effective measure aimed to protect drivers and passengers in the event of a collision. This came into effect in two stages firstly in 1983 front seatbelts were made compulsory. This was then closely followed by rear seatbelts 4 years later. Seatbelt laws have significantly increased seatbelt usage rates, reducing the risk of serious injuries and fatalities.
To address the vulnerability of vehicle occupants in side-impact collisions, car manufacturers in 1991 implemented advanced side-impact protection measures. These included reinforced structures, side airbags, and curtain airbags that deploy upon impact, providing an additional layer of protection to mitigate the risk of severe injuries. Designed to inflate rapidly upon impact, cushioning the driver and passengers and reducing the risk of head and chest injuries.
Impact protection systems were introduced in HGV trucks in the UK at various points in time. One significant milestone in the implementation of impact protection measures for HGV trucks in the UK was the introduction of the EU Directive 2003/20/EC. This directive, which came into force on April 30, 2003, aimed to improve the safety of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, by requiring the installation of side guards and rear underrun protection systems on certain categories of HGVs. Based on statistics from the Department for Transport, there was a significant 15% reduction in car occupant fatalities between 1979 and 1991. Moreover, when including data from 2003 onwards, following the updates in HGVs, the overall death rate for all road users decreased by 45%. This decline could potentially be attributed to the introduction of impact protection technology during that timeframe.
Adaptive Cruise Control
In 1999, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) started to become available. Previously, systems were available that could provide distance warnings or control the engine but not apply the brakes. ACC is a cutting-edge safety feature that has revolutionised driving experiences and significantly contributed to road safety. It uses sensors and radar technology to automatically adjust the speed of a vehicle, maintaining a safe and consistent distance from the vehicle ahead. By monitoring the traffic flow and adapting the vehicle’s speed accordingly. Alongside this and incorporating the lane departure warning feature, there has been a noticeable decrease of 17% in HGV collision incidents.
Blind-Spot Monitoring & Fatigue Detection
Blind-spot monitoring and fatigue detection are two important safety features introduced in 2007. Using sensors and cameras to detect vehicles in the driver’s blind spots, providing timely alerts or visual warnings to help prevent collisions during lane changes or manoeuvres. Fatigue detection, on the other hand, addresses the critical issue of driver fatigue, which is a major cause of accidents, especially during long drives or monotonous journeys. This technology employs advanced algorithms and sensors to monitor driver behaviour, such as steering patterns, lane deviations, and eye movement. By analysing these factors, the system can accurately detect signs of drowsiness or inattentiveness.
Following the introduction of this technology, the Department for Transport recorded a notable decrease in HGV collisions from 14,572 to 10,688 incidents, representing a reduction of 27%. Moreover, the number of all road user deaths decreased significantly from 6,352 to 2,946, indicating a remarkable decrease of 54%. These statistics strongly suggest that the incorporation of blind-spot monitoring and fatigue detection technologies played a crucial role in improving road safety and mitigating accidents. Highlighting the effectiveness of these safety features in enhancing driver awareness, minimising risks, and saving lives.
Emergency Brake System
The integration of emergency brake systems truly was a significant game-changer in preventing collisions. Data shows that HGV collisions reduced by 38% in 2008 following the introduction. These systems use sensors to detect potential obstacles or rapidly decelerating vehicles, triggering an immediate braking response to prevent or mitigate accidents. Emergency brake systems provide an additional layer of protection by assisting drivers in critical situations where human reaction time may fall short.
The implementation of anti-skid systems, also known as electronic stability control (ESC) were first introduced in 2009. By monitoring a vehicle’s stability and traction, ESC detects and corrects potential skidding or loss of control. This technology helps drivers maintain control during sudden manoeuvres, reducing the risk of rollovers and collisions caused by unstable driving conditions. In November 2015, EU legislation was introduced, requiring the installation of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems in the majority of newly registered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) weighing over 7.5 tonnes. From 2015 onwards, new HGVs sold in the UK have been equipped with Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) as a standard feature. Since the implementation of this technology, there has been a remarkable 49% reduction in HGV collisions, the most substantial decrease since 1994 when previous safety features were introduced.
Mac’s Truck Rental
The advancements in overall vehicle safety features have played a crucial role in reducing the number of collisions and deaths over the years. Investing in an HGV truck equipped with advanced safety features is not just a wise decision, but a crucial one. These safety features, such as blind-spot monitoring, fatigue detection, adaptive cruise control, and emergency brake systems, offer unparalleled protection for drivers, goods, and other road users.
By prioritising safety, you are not only mitigating the risk of accidents and potential injuries but also ensuring regulatory compliance and maintaining your reputation as a responsible fleet operator. With cutting-edge safety technologies becoming increasingly standard in HGV trucks, now is the perfect time to explore the market. Making an informed decision to invest in an HGV truck rental that puts safety at the forefront. We offer a wide range of trucks to lease including tipper trucks for hire, beavertail trucks and curtainsiders to rent so no matter what the job we have a vehicle for you. Choose a truck equipped with advanced safety features from Mac’s Truck Rental and gain peace of mind knowing that you are making a responsible choice for yourself, your drivers, and everyone sharing the road.