National Highways launches HGV ‘Blind Spots’ Safety Campaign

Living Magazines HGV Blind spots
  • More than a third of motorists unaware of number of HGV blind spots
  • Drivers urged to ‘know the zones’
  • Leading haulage bodies back campaign

National Highways has launched a new safety campaign, amid concerns about drivers’ awareness of heavy goods vehicle ‘blind spots’ when overtaking.

Car and van drivers can underestimate limitations HGV drivers face in seeing passing vehicles.

In a recent survey commissioned by National Highways, while nearly three quarters of people said they take extra care when overtaking a HGV, 36 per cent said they did not know how many blind spots a HGV had. Thirty-six per cent also admitted feeling nervous when passing trucks.

The motorway and major A-road network National Highways operates plays a crucial role in supporting economic growth and tens of thousands of lorries rely on it every single day to connect products to people and businesses.

In the campaign video, supported by the Road Haulage Association, Logistics UK and other HGV bodies, drivers are being urged to ‘know the zones’ where HGV drivers have limited visibility.

HGV drivers have four areas of ‘limited visibility’ – at the front, rear and each side of their vehicle.

Lorries now have additional mirrors as standard which has improved driver visibility, but not completely eliminated ‘blind spots’.

Head of Road Safety at National Highways, Jeremy Phillips, said: ‘Safety is our number one priority, and we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe when driving.

‘Our advice to motorists overtaking a HGV is simple; avoid tailgating the HGV when considering an overtaking manoeuvre and as the Highway Code states, do so quickly and safely to avoid staying in an area of limited visibility.’

Road Safety Minister Richard Holden said: ‘We have some of the safest roads in the world, but we are not complacent and are always looking at ways to make them safer.

‘Making motorists aware of HGV blind spots will help prevent road collisions and support our ambitions of building a safer road network.’

Road Haulage Association Policy Lead, Tom Cornwell, said: ‘At RHA, we believe road safety is key. The roads are the workplace of our industry and we want commercial vehicle operators and all road users to be as safe as possible.

‘We were pleased that National Highways reached out to us to input into this campaign which will raise awareness of limited areas of visibility with large vehicles and will educate other drivers.’

Chris Yarsley, Senior Policy Manager – Road Freight Regulation at Logistics UK, said: ‘The safety of our members, and all other road users, is of paramount importance to Logistics UK and this new campaign is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the hazards when interacting with HGVs on England’s motorway and major A-road network.

‘We welcome safety initiatives like this because it will encourage motorists to think about overtaking lorries safely without lingering in zones of limited visibility.’

Shannan Paterson has run Willenhall-based HGV Training Midlands school since she was just 21. She rose to fame when she was featured in the BBC documentary Queen of Trucks and is keen to highlight to all road users the dangers of driving too close behind and in front of lorries.

The 28-year-old said: ‘Driving a lorry is very different to driving a car. You can’t see anything behind you other than the trailer. Your only vision is in front of you and in the side mirrors.

‘You don’t know if someone is immediately behind you, and they can’t see what is ahead of your HGV or if you are going to have to brake sharply for any reason.

‘While if someone pulls in front of a HGV without leaving enough room, the lorry driver might not be able to see them at all in the blind spot below the cab and therefore won’t be able to judge their stopping distance properly.

‘I fully support National Highways’ campaign and would encourage drivers to give HGVs space. You have to go through a lot of training to legally drive a lorry but even professional drivers can’t know that someone is in one of their blind spots.’

The advice for drivers is:

  • Know the zones – HGVs have four zones around them where their visibility is limited – at the front, back and both sides. If you don’t know where they are, you could be sitting in one without even realising
  • Pass quickly and safely
  • Where possible, don’t linger next to a HGV

The National Highways campaign will be aired on radio, featured on TV on demand, online video, social media, billboards and posters.

Image: ‘Queen of Trucks’ Shannan Paterson courtesy of Anton Inwood.