Safe vehicles

  • Many of the safety improvements in recent decades have focused on those inside the vehicle rather than those outside.
  • There are now a number of technological improvements that can also give protection to other road users. Most notable are Intelligent Speed Assitance (ISA) which limits vehicle speeds and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).
  • It is vital that these innovations become mandatory for vehicles being driven in London in the near future.

A great deal of effort has gone into making vehicles safer in recent decades, which has particularly improved the safety of people in cars. In London, the number of car occupants killed annually has fallen from 54 in 2005 to 16 in 2018 (a 70% fall). By contrast over the same period the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists killed has fallen by 38% from 110 in 2005 to 68 in 2018.

The greatest danger for those on foot and bike is posed by the largest vehicles including buses, coaches and HGVs and to a lesser degree motorcycles. For those cycling the risk from HGVs is markedly greater.

TfL Vision Zero Action Plan 2018 (page 58); London data
TfL Vision Zero Action Plan 2018 (page 59); London data

The Vision Zero approach improves the safety of those on the outside as well as the inside of vehicles.

Buses

Measures for buses include improving direct and indirect vision for drivers, redesigning the front of buses to help reduce the impact of a collision, speed-limiting technology (ISA) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). These safety improvements have been incorporated by TfL into a Bus Safety Standard.

Freight vehicles

The safety of freight vehicles can be improved with mirrors, close-proximity sensors, blind-spot cameras, side under-run protection (on both sides) and audible alert for vehicle turning left.

TfL’s new Direct Vision Standard comes into force on October 1st 2020 for HGVs over 12 Tonnes entering London. This is based on a Vision Star rating that indicates how much a driver can see other road users directly from their HGV cab.

Taxis, PHVs and other working vehicles

There are a range of safety features that now come as standard . The latest zero-emission capable taxis in London, for example, have Autonomous Emergency Braking for people walking and cycling, lane-departure and forward collision warning systems fitted as standard.

Intelligent speed adaptation (ISA)

ISA is now being introduced as standard on all new TfL buses in London (as part of the Bus Safety Standard) and is being considered more widely in relation to working vehicles in London.  

Overridable ISA has recently been adopted by the EU Parliament as part of a range of measures to improve safety for new vehicles registered in Europe from 2022.

The new regulatations are summarised by the Council of Europe as follows:

As of mid-2022, all motor vehicles (including trucks, buses, vans and sport utility vehicles) will have to be equipped with the following safety features:

  • intelligent speed assistance,
  • alcohol interlock installation facilitation,
  • driver drowsiness and attention warning systems,
  • advanced driver distraction warning systems,
  • emergency stop signals,
  • reversing detection systems,
  • event data recorders,
  • accurate tyre pressure monitoring.

Supplementary advanced safety measures will be required for cars and vans. These include:

  • advanced emergency braking systems,
  • emergency lane-keeping systems,
  • enlarged head impact protection zones capable of mitigating injuries in collisions with vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Trucks and buses will have to be designed and manufactured in such a way that the blind spots around the vehicle are significantly reduced. They will also have to be equipped with advanced systems capable of detecting pedestrians and cyclists located in close proximity to the vehicle.

Action Vision Zero believes that there is a great deal that local authorities can do to mandate the use of ISA in relation to vehicles operating for work in their area. For example, by:

  • adopting mandatory ISA in fleet procurement practices as part of renewal programmes;
  • ensuring mandatory ISA is a standard requirement for any service procured by the council with a fleet requirement;
  • promoting the installation of mandatory ISA in taxis and private hire vehicles and encouraging the appropriate licensing authority to make ISA a requirement for new taxis and private hire licensing;
  • encouraging the uptake of mandatory ISA in other fleets, such as hauliers, construction firms and coach operators that operate in the council area;
  • including mandatory ISA for any car club vehicles that aim to operate from a base within the local authority area. 

Motorcycles

Apologies that this data is currently all taken from London; we will aim to make it UK wide as soon as possible.

Motorcycling in London carries a risk that is out of proportion with its mode share. A GLA Transport Committee report from March 2018, found that although motorcycles account for just one per cent of journeys made in London, 27 per cent of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on London’s roads are motorcyclists.

Figure 1. London Assembly Transport Committee Report Motorcycle Safety in London (page 2)

There have been a number of studies into motorcycle danger. These include the 2014 TfL Motorcycle Safety Action Plan, the GLA Assembly Transport Committee report (above) and more recently the Vision Zero Action Plan.

These reports note the extremely high and unacceptable level of risk that motorcycle riders face on London’s roads. The GLA Assembly report makes the following recommendations:

  • Improving motorcycle training. TfL and the Mayor should re-instate plans to develop a London standard for motorcycle training.
  • Making roads safer for motorcyclists. The Assembly was keen to see the guidance in the TfL Urban Motorcycle Design Handbook adopted in road improvement schemes and for the delivery of the Healthy Streets programme to include consideration of motorcycle safety. The key issues highlighted in the Design Handbook were – grip and adherence to the road, visibility, roadside features, the design of traffic calming and the capacity to filter through traffic (and the importance of adequate lane widths). Adequate funds for roads maintenance were also essential as motorcyclists were felt to be particularly suspectible to poor road surface conditions.
  • Increased access to bus lanes. Progress by the boroughs in ensuring motorcycles are allowed in all bus lanes was felt to be inadequate.

A number of additional themes arose from the Vision Zero Action Plan and included:

  • TfL raising standards for professional drivers and riders through training and education, including expanding FORS to include a standard for the motorcycle courier sector.
  • Raising the quality and availability of motorcycling training and education available to people riding in London by: a) supporting the Motorcycle Industry Accreditation Centre’s scheme for accrediting companies and instructors and b) providing a broad range of motorcycle training interventions to meet the varied needs of London’s riders and to reduce risk to people walking and cycling.

A concern is that the new EU regulations which includes the fitting of Intelligent Speed Adaptation that are part of the new minimum safety requirements for vehicles which will apply from 2022 will not apply to motorcycles.