SMUK is hosting an insightful session at this year’s Road Transport Exo (RTX) Knowledge Zone that brings together a host of road safety experts.

The ‘Gearing up for Change’ forum will explore the role technology plays in keeping HGVs compliant with an ever-tightening regime of safety regulations, as well as the benefits it can bring to operational efficiency and costs.

Hosted by Lesley O’Brien, MD at Freightlink Europe, the session will bring you up to speed with planned safety changes, provide handy advice on fleet compliance and shine a spotlight on new-generation technology.

MT caught up with SMUK’s safety lead, Ed Barrie, to find out more about the trending safety topics being discussed during the session.

New truck rules

First on the agenda is a look at the update to the EU General Safety Regulations (GSR) in 2024, which will require an advancement in the safety equipment factory-fitted to new HGVs.

While the UK is no longer in the EU, GSR applies to all vehicles built at factories in Europe, so will still have an impact on domestic hauliers.

The aim of the current regulations is to drastically reduce the number of road fatalities and serious injuries across Europe and requires manufacturers to ensure the latest safety technology is fitted to all new vehicles, such as lane departure warnings.

From 2024, a tightening of these measures will come into play for all newly-registered HGVs, which will need to be fitted with technology, including:

  • Emergency stop signals;
  • Reversing Information;
  • Tyre-pressure monitoring systems;
  • Intelligent speed assist;
  • Blind spot information systems;
  • Moving off information systems (such as a a pedestrian and cyclist collision warning);
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation;
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning.

London calling

Barrie explained that the next phase of London’s Direct Vision Standard (DVS) will likely incorporate elements of GSR technology and may even go above and beyond.

Currently out to consultation, it is expected TfL will provide the final details of the updated DVS this summer, so until then it remains unclear for operators whether new trucks from the factory will comply or need additional equipment fitted.

He said: “So we're just waiting to find out from manufacturers about their new systems and what the new DVS is going to look like.

“We've got a good idea from the consultation that's gone out, but nobody knows for sure yet.”

Barrie predicts that DVS won’t just stop at London in the future, as other cities jump on board the safety-focused initiative.

“I can see DVS being adopted within the next five years in every major city in the country. If they already have ANPR systems in place for Clean Air Zones, for example, why wouldn’t they add DVS in?”

Shedding some light on next-generation safety equipment during the Road Transport Expo session will be Brigade’s James Ashford, who will examine advances in AI detection systems for HGVs in the quest to protect vulnerable road users.

Making the most of technology

Whilst the majority of operators have now embraced technology to some degree, Barrie believes it is common to find that many are only using its basic functions and not unlocking the wider benefits it can bring.

Telematics is one such example, he added, with many fleets using sophisticated systems for simple vehicle tracking purposes only, rather than using the gathered data for driving significant operational efficiencies.

Webfleet’s Graham Gardner will tackle this important topic during his presentation at RTX, so is certainly one not to be miss.

You’ll also be able to explore the safety benefits and cost savings to be found from adopting the latest tyre-pressure monitoring systems, which Wheely-Safe’s Gary Thomas will be on hand to discuss.

The human element

Barrie is a huge advocate of anything that improves road safety and believes any regulations that can reduce incidents and lower risk can only be a good thing.

But he also warns that no matter how advanced the technology, the biggest factor when it comes to road safety will always be the human element of the driver behind the wheel.

To shed some light on the importance of driver actions, he recommends attending presentations from Road Safety Smart’s Andrew Drewary, who will examine risk reduction and the importance of post-incident investigations, and also LMP Legal’s Charlotte le Maire, who will deliver an impactful session on ensuring your drivers know what to do in the event of a major collision or fatality.

And those same decisions you make around risk reduction and use of the latest safety technology can also play a vital role in your HGV fleet insurance premiums, which Ian McCarron from McCarron Coates will explain during his presentation.

The bigger picture

For many operators, especially SMEs, the initial outlay for new equipment and technology to meet safety regulations can seem like a huge investment.

Which is why SMUK has brought together leading safety technology experts to help operators understand the wider business benefits of using it, beyond simply complying with regulations

“That's really what we're trying to do with our ‘Gearing up for Change’ forum at the Road Transport Expo,” said Barrie. “To help operators understand that you shouldn’t just look at purchasing new safety technology as simply ‘another cost I've got to pay for’.

“Because we'll show you where else it impacts in your operation. You have to think about it not as one single cost of initial outlay, but more for what it's going to do across your business.”

‘Gearing up for Change’ will be held from 1.30-3.30 on the RTX Knowledge Zone stage and is a must-attend session for fleet managers looking to keep their vehicles safe and compliant.

RTX is a free-to-attend three-day tradeshow with an ‘all about the truck’ focus, which takes place from 28-30 June at NAEC Stoneleigh. Book your ticket today!