What other measures were taken and how effective were they?

Answer

In addition to driver training and vehicle measures, measures were taken in the field of:

  • Behavioural rules for truck drivers and enforcement;
  • network and logistics;
  • information and education campaigns for other road users.

Behavioural rules for truck drivers and enforcement

In addition to the general behavioural rules for motorised traffic, two extra rules apply to truck drivers. On some roads, trucks are not allowed to overtake, and professional drivers should comply with legal driving time and rest period regulations. Monitoring compliance is hindered by tachograph fraud. For enforcement of the general ban on handheld phoning, police experiment by monitoring from touring coaches, among other things.  

For a number of motorways, an overtaking ban has applied to trucks since 2003. The ban was imposed to help prevent bottlenecks in traffic flow and road safety [60]. A disadvantage of the ban is that a long line of trucks may occur that will complicate merging and exiting for other traffic. In addition, driving in a long line for some time may cause truck drivers to lose concentration. In 2014, it was therefore decided to abolish the overtaking ban on road sections of the main road network with more than three lanes per driving direction and on quiet roads with 2x2 lanes. On busy roads with only two lanes, however, the overtaking ban has been extended to include overtaking at other times than during rush hour. On road sections longer than 30 kilometres, the overtaking ban for trucks is suspended for five kilometres to allow trucks to overtake, which prevents long lines of trucks [61].

Fatigue is a significant factor in causing truck crashes. For that reason, legislation concerning and enforcement of the driving time and rest periods is important. There are doubts however, about the effectiveness of this legislation. In 2012, the Dutch Safety Board concluded that employers fail to take legal responsibility in scheduling the workload of truck drivers in such a way that they are able to comply with driving time and rest period legislation [22].For decades, random checks of tachographs have shown 25% of the truck drivers to drive longer hours than legally permitted. The Dutch Safety Council adds that the checks only look at the last time of rest, which does identify occasional offences but not a structural rest deficiency. Thus, there is insufficient attention for the driver’s biorhythm and for working in irregular shifts. The board also notes that a shortage of adequate rest areas along motorways contributes to driving too long uninterrupted hours. In 2017, random checks not only showed regular manipulation of tachograph data (5-30% of the trucks checked), but also that tachograph fraud is becoming harder and harder to detect. The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) therefore concludes that adequate enforcement of driving time and rest periods can no longer be guaranteed [62].

Enforcement of distraction prevention by e.g. checking ‘phone use while driving a truck’ is hard because of the height of the cabins. Recently, police have overcome this difficulty by making use of touring coaches during wide-scale checks [63] [64].

The higher touring coach seats offer police the opportunity to look directly into the truck cabins. When handheld phone use is observed, a police support car is alerted in order to stop the truck driver. The effectiveness of this new enforcement method has not been studied yet.

Network and logistics

The ‘freight transport quality network’ and ‘urban distribution’ are two examples of the way in which safety of freight traffic in and around urban areas may be improved. The freight transport quality network aims to process the flow of goods in an efficient and responsible way. Urban distribution relates to the way in which inner-city shops and catering facilities are supplied. According to the vision ‘Sustainable Safety’ completely separating freight traffic from other traffic is preferable. After all, trucks are much heavier than other traffic, which implies crashes often have a more serious outcome.

The freight transport quality network is an interconnecting network for economic centres in the Netherlands which processes important freight flows. These networks have been developed to structure freight flow in such a way that accessibility, viability and safety are optimally combined [65]. In every region, roads that are accessible to trucks are specified [33]. In 1997, the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht developed a freight transport quality network for their urban conglomeration (Randstad). The Southern, Northern and Eastern Netherlands also have networks [66] . Whether the introduction of quality networks has led to a decrease of the number of road casualties has not been studied.

Urban distribution refers to the process of supplying shops and catering facilities in inner cities. Measures to optimise urban distribution are e.g. widening delivery windows, more efficient supply processes (by combining deliveries for several shops for example), transhipment from heavy to lighter trucks and delivery vans (so that heavier trucks need not enter the city, early morning and late evening distribution using quiet vehicles (before the morning and after the evening rush hour) and introducing logistic routes. Particularly the measures to separate heavy trucks and vulnerable road users fit within the SWOV vision of sustainably safe mobility. Calculation examples show that measures for urban distribution could also improve road safety [33] [67]. More intricate data to exactly calculate the effect of urban distribution are missing from the available databases.

Ideally, heavy goods vehicles are separated from lighter vehicles [68]. This is attainable by means of a logistic system which separates heavy goods vehicles on the main road network and lighter vehicles on the underlying road network, and by avoiding times and places with a lot of vulnerable road users. This will take measures that go further than urban distribution and the freight transport quality network.

Information for and education of other road users

In the Netherlands, several parties have developed teaching methods to make older primary school children (groups 7 and 8) and younger secondary school children (groups 1 and 2) aware of the dangers of trucks in traffic (e.g. www.veilig-op-weg.nl or [69]). These teaching methods usually consist of an instructional video and of experiencing the blind spot from the truck driver’s perspective. Evaluation of two Dutch educational programmes about the blind spot, targeting young people, showed that knowledge about the blind spot had increased but had not automatically led to safer road user behaviour [70] . It is unknown whether this kind of teaching method has contributed to a decrease of the number of annual blind spot crashes (also see SWOV fact sheet Traffic education).

Part of fact sheet

Trucks and delivery vans

From 2009 to 2018, an annual average of 80 road deaths were attributable to crashes with trucks and 67 road deaths to crashes with delive

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