Road safety and heavy goods vehicles

Road safety and heavy goods vehicles

Road safety is important for the well-being of society, economic growth, and prosperity. Unfortunately, there is still a high level of road accidents. As prominent members of the road transport industry, we can contribute through our fleets and safety-aware drivers to safer roads.

Global accident levels

On a global basis, road traffic deaths total 1.2 million annually. They are the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 29. International organisations such as the UN and EU and individual countries are actively campaigning to reduce these numbers. The UN aims to halve road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030 [source: International Road Transport Union]

EU road safety statistics

Since 2010, the EU has wanted to reduce traffic fatalities by 50% by 2020. It is struggling to reach that objective. Today there are approximately 26,000 road fatalities in the European Union each year of which 15% of these are heavy goods vehicle- (“HGV”) related.

The number of HGV-related fatalities in 2014 totalled 3,863 of which 1,898 (49%) caused fatalities to car occupants and 1,230 (32%) led to fatalities to “vulnerable road users,” namely pedestrians, cyclists, moped riders, and motorcyclists.

In 90% of accident scenarios involving HGVs, human error is a leading cause. This factor usually interacts with one or both of the following factors: the “environment” such as type of road, weather conditions, time of day and “vehicle” which might include the condition of the brakes, tyres, etc.

10-20% of the HGV-related accidents cause fatalities or severe injuries to HGV occupants, with 55-60% being “single accidents,” some form of driver error such as losing concentration and driving off-the-road. 50-55% of the HGV-related accidents cause fatalities or severe injuries to car occupants with 35-45% being “oncoming accidents” where a car will collide with a truck travelling in the opposite direction. Finally, 30-35% of HGV-related accidents cause fatalities or severe injuries to vulnerable road users with 30% being “crossing accidents” in which someone will have crossed a road. [source: Volvo Trucks Safety Report 2017]


Measures to improve traffic safety

In the same report, Volvo advocates several measures including:

  • The increased wearing of seat belts.
  • Improving driver awareness of other vehicles and road users and vice versa. Separately, in December 2017, a group of 18 major European cities wrote a letter to the European Commission urging it to create an EU “direct vision standard” for trucks to eliminate truck driver blind spots through technology.
  • Developing active safety systems including:
    • Advanced Emergency Brake Systems (“AEBS”) that can detect unexpected users or events at the rear of the trailers and trucks and activate the brakes automatically without driver intervention. This was also requested by the 18 European cities.
    • Systems that can detect vulnerable road users.
    • Co-operative Intelligent Traffic Systems (“C-ITS”)
  • Driver safety training

Fleet operators, their drivers, and safety – a checklist

As part of its campaign to help save lives on the road, the International Road Transport Union (“IRU”) has published The Truck Driver’s Checklist for Road Safety, which focuses on the key elements to consider in three sections:

  1. “Well-being” to ensure that you are as alert as possible for driving. The recommendations include healthy eating and drinking; regular exercise; sitting comfortably; taking regular breaks; using seat belts; respecting legal driving hours limits and not driving when feeling drowsy.
  2. “Journey mechanics”. Have you checked the key mechanical components of your truck and trailer including brakes, tyres, mirrors, and lights? Is your load well-distributed and secure? Do you have the right documents? Have you planned and checked your route?
  3. “Safe driving advice”. These “common sense” reminders include being aware of your blind spots; keeping a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you; trying to anticipate problems; at night, dipping your headlights in good time; adapting your driving to the weather conditions and using secure parking conditions where possible.

Driver safety training

Training helps drivers meet high safety standards and makes our roads safer. There are plenty of organisations that provide truck driver safety training including:

  • The IRU Academy trains and certifies thousands of commercial drivers and transport operators every year through its network of over 65 training institutes in more than 45 countries,
  • Among the many providers of truck driver safety training across Europe aisDEKRA Akademie; Wabco Academy and BestDriver which cover Europe including Poland and Ukraine.
  • The Big Seven European truck manufacturers DAF, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Scania, and Volvo run driver safety courses as part of their driver training programmes for clients.

 TIP and driver road safety

TIP can contribute to truck driver road safety by providing your fleet with preventative trailer maintenance on an outsourced basis and through rental or leasing new trailer models.

Preventative maintenance maximises trailers’ availability for delivering goods to customers. Most issues with trailers are maintenance related and can be prevented in a more cost-effective way prior to travelling than discovering an unexpected problem on the road.  Any undetected mechanical problems with trailers are potential road safety hazards.

Through trailer rental or leasing, TIP can ensure that you have flexible access to new trailer models and the latest safety technology including tyre pressure monitoring systems and telematics.


To find out more about how TIP can help you with truck driver safety and trailers, please contact us using this form.

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