SAG 25: What are the most significant safety improvements that can be made to trucks?

The 25th Scientific Advisory Group report examines the safety of commercial vehicles, focusing on Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) mainly used for long-haul and regional deliveries, further referred to here as HGV combinations.

In particular, it examines whether HGV combinations with an extended front, which are longer than those currently permitted (16.5m tractor and semitrailer or 18.75m truck and trailer), can be safer. If so, in which accident scenarios in urban and rural areas will greater safety be seen?

It has been advocated that trucks with extended fronts are safer trucks – right or wrong?

In the European Union (EU-27) in 2011, there were 4,252 fatalities from collisions involving HGVs with a weight above 3.5 tonnes and 722 fatalities from collisions with buses and coaches. This represents 18% of the 27,000 people that died on Europe’s roads. European accident data available provides no information on fatalities with 16.5m or 18.75m HGV combinations.

The majority of fatalities (more than 70%) involving HGV combinations occur outside urban areas. The largest share of the fatalities in HGV collisions, as shown in section 2, is not the truck occupants. Rather, they are other road users; occupants of cars impacting with an HGV and vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists).

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