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Lorries need to be fitted with technology to prevent ‘blind-spot’ deaths, say engineers

Collision-avoidance technologies which help eliminate cyclist and pedestrian deaths caused by driver ‘blind-spots’ should be made mandatory for all UK buses and lorries by 2015, according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Heavy Good Vehicles make up 5% of the traffic on Britain’s roads yet cause 20% of all fatal accidents involving cyclists. Cyclist deaths have risen by 7% in the past year, with about eight cyclists being killed or seriously injured daily on British roads.

Making collision avoidance technologies mandatory for all large vehicles which prevent driver ‘blind-spots’ could make the roads safer for millions of cyclists across the UK, says the IMechE.

One example of a collision avoidance technology is LATERAL SAFE which is being developed by the European Council for Automotive Research & Development (EUCAR). This system uses sensors to warn drivers of obstacles and accident risks, such as cyclists, to the rear or side of the vehicle.

“The alarming rise in cyclist deaths on British roads needs to be addressed urgently,” said IMechE head of transport Philippa Oldham.

“A number of these deaths could be prevented if technology to prevent driver ‘blind spots’ were made mandatory for all large vehicles.

“New intelligent transport technologies have the potential to save thousands of lives. Cyclists, pedestrians and other road users could all benefit but, just as with seatbelts thirty years ago, we need policymakers to work with the automotive industry to make them mandatory.”

Automated emeergency response

The report ‘Intelligent Transport Intelligent Society also calls for automated emergency response systems to be integrated into all new road vehicles within the next two years. These systems automatically alert emergency services in case of an accident – even if a driver is unconscious – as well as providing the exact location of the accident using Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Electronic safety systems like the European project eCall, which automatically alert emergency services in the case of a serious car accident, have the potential to cut road fatalities by as much as 10%, says the report.

The report also looks at other Intelligent Transport Systems which could make travel safer and more efficient such as:

  • A lane guide system which uses lasers or infrared sensors to continuously monitor the vehicle’s lane and alerts the driver if he/she unintentionally begins to wander out of lane.
  • Autonomous vehicles like the Google driverless car which uses information gathered from Google Street View, artificial intelligence software with input from cameras and sensors to control the car.
  • Pedestrian protection through sensors in the front bumper area. These sensors send data to an engine control unit which analyses it and could stop the vehicle automatically in an emergency.
  • Speed-proportional steering which automatically provides more power-steering during low speed and parking manoeuvres and less power-steering at high speed.
  • Vibrating steering wheel which notifies drivers of possible collisions, lane departures or drowsiness.

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