To help reduce the shocking cyclist and pedestrian fatality figures on UK roads, Safety Shield Systems have developed an intuitive device that allows HGV drivers to keep tab of the many blind spots that arise naturally from driving such a large vehicle.
It's called the Cycle Safety Shield (CSS), and according to their website, it was developed in reaction to the 19,000 or so annual UK road accidents involving the serious injury or death of cyclists.
The figure of annual cyclist fatalities in the UK hit a five-year high in 2012, in which 106 of the 122 deaths were known to have involved a motorist. With UK roads busier and ever, coupled with a boom in cycling amongst people of all ages, there are fears that things will get worse before they get better.
Safety Shield Systems recognised that many accidents involving cyclists are caused by incidents in which large vehicles turn left into a side road, oblivious to a cyclist on their nearside. Their Cycle Safety Shield is designed to prevent such incidents through warning a driver when a cyclist enters a “danger zone”.
The Cycle Safety Shield can detect both static and moving cyclists and pedestrians to a range of up to 30m. It advises the driver of their position, allowing them to keep a track of their blind spots. As ongoing training and better awareness is key to preventing road deaths, the Cycle Safety Shield works to ensure that HGV drivers never become complacent, that they thoroughly check their surroundings before attempting all manoeuvres.
The technology also collects data from journeys, recognising late braking, lane departures made without steering and near misses. These are all stored in a black box where they can be assessed and used to develop further training.
You might argue that it's unfair to place all of the onus on drivers, and granted, cyclists and pedestrians also have a responsibility to stay safe, alert and vigilant. However, cyclists and pedestrians aren't in command of several tonnes of inexorably moving metal. And besides, the Cycle Safety Shield has numerous additional benefits for a HGV driver beyond blind spot monitoring.
The Cycle Safety Shield essentially works as full driver-assistance system. To avoid rear-ending, it has a forward collision warning system. If the truck starts drifting, the lane departure warning system kicks in, helping the driver to stay on target. It has a traffic sign recognition and warning system, and even a head-lamp control.
All told, this high-tech system transforms good drivers into even better drivers. Safety Shield Systems trialled the technology in the US, where they found that it can lead to a 60% improvement in driver behaviour and can even increase fuel efficiency by 20%.
These integrated driver-assist systems are becoming increasingly common in cars. In many cases, they're included as standard. But in HGVs, where they can play a crucial role in reducing a great many unnecessary deaths, the question is, should they be compulsory?
Image via Safety Shield Systems.