London operator O’Donovan Waste Disposal is asking its drivers to make a cultural change by embracing an unconventional skip lorry in the form of the Mercedes-Benz Econic.

Now in operation in the capital as part of a four-week trial by the waste management company, it is the first Econic to hit the roads in skip-loader guise rather than its typical configuration as a refuse collection vehicle.

The trial is aiming to assess if the truck’s design can not only improve safety for vulnerable road users through the all-round visibility of its cab, but also remove some of the cognitive strain from the driver of having to monitor several pieces of add-on safety technology.

MD Jacqueline O’Donovan said the cab’s unconventional design had prompted initial reluctance from drivers to get behind the wheel.

However, this was one of the hurdles that the company, through its championing of the Clocs scheme, was looking to overcome.

“The Econic, with a dust cart cab and a skip back, is alien to us,” she told FreightintheCity. “But the whole purpose of Clocs is a culture change, so we’re going to trial something new and give it a run.”

She added that during the trial, the Econic will be assessed for accessibility, manoeuvrability and drivers’ reaction to on-road use.

The company already operates three skip lorries brought to market through discussions between the Clocs team and manufacturers: a Volvo FL; a Daf LF; and an MAN TGM with revised suspension to lower the cab.

“The drivers love the Volvo with the lower nearside window for view, but these are the conventional cab style,” said O’Donovan.

Longer-term, the haulier will look to replace its fleet with
the most successful models, following trials.

The company is also carrying out trials of low-to-the-ground side skirts on its fleet of tippers.