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Saturday, 28 September 2013

A Sobering Thought

At the current NEC Cycle Show  this large lorry is a  rather surprising exhibit.

It is there to demonstrate the proposals for improving the driver's view of the surrounding traffic, in particular of cyclists who may have (unwisely) crept up on the left side of the lorry and are not visible to the driver as he turns left.  Several cyclists have been killed in such situations.

I took the opportunity to climb up into the lorry's driving seat to have a look at the driver's visibility with and without the extra mirrors.  No less than seven additional mirrors have been fitted.

The first thing that strikes you is the sheer height you have to climb just to get in the cab, and then how poor close quarter vision is even with the extra mirrors.

A cyclist would need to be several metres away from the lorry to be visible to the driver.

In addition to the mirrors, an audible warning is fitted together with warning signs.

There is a proposal to bring this demonstration to Derby on Wednesday 30th of October at Pride Park and it will be well worth going along to see the magnitude of the problem for lorry drivers, who have a very difficult job to do on our over-crowded and sometimes badly designed roads.

My personal view is that these moves are an improvement, but not good enough.  Multiple mirrors must be difficult to adjust accurately and difficult to view.
A much better way would be to use four video cameras mounted on the sides. rear, and the front of the vehicle, these being connected to  a single screen monitor in the cab.  The monitor could be continually cycling the views from the cameras, giving full 360 degree vision.

1 comment:

Keith Drury said...

Les: BMW cars have as optional extra a system which warns the driver if he/she has crossed the lane boundary line without signalling. It's based on video cameras in the side mirrors which point downwards, and their signals are processed to detect the lines. (Meant to warn of unintentional lane 'drift'.)

Surely cameras as you suggest plus such detection software, suitably specified to pick up bikes/cyclists, must be even better than the straight image system. As you rightly say, the driver already has an exacting job, and a tool to relieve him of some burden, as long as it doesn't create false positives must be the aim.