New lorry design could save cyclists' lives

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The new Direct Vision truck cab is designed to reduce blind spots

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A UK team at Loughborough University is proposing a new cab design for lorries that would offer drivers a better view of the road around them, thus potentially saving the lives of pedestrians and cyclists. According to the researchers, the redesign of the cab could offer a 50-percent increase in front and side field of view, compared to traditional cabs.

The increased visibility is accomplished thanks to an 80-cm (31.5-in) longer cab with a rounder nose, larger glazed areas, smaller dashboard, and a slightly lower seated position for the driver.

These combined features should greatly reduce blind spots, which can be the cause of accidents. The Loughborough team cites a study which indicates that last year, nine of 14 cyclist fatalities in London involved HGVs (heavy goods vehicles). The study also indicates that 43 percent of cycling accidents in Belgium involve lorries.

The biggest issue with any fundamental design change like this is convincing companies to take on the large cost of upgrading their existing lorries to a new, safer designs. Trucks like this are not cheap, and if a company is operating an entire fleet, the cost would be difficult to absorb. Over time, as lorries need to be phased out due to age, they could be replaced with new models, but unless it's government-mandated, it would be hard to imagine most companies jumping to replace an entire fleet.

Still, it's an interesting change that could make the road a safer place, and that's definitely a good thing for everyone. For another take on a cyclist-safe lorry, check out the design put forward last year by the London Cycling Campaign. Additionally, UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's has recently started using trucks equipped with cyclist-spotting 360-degree video systems.

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