Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

House of Lords written question – answered on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Lord Bradshaw Lord Bradshaw Spokesperson in the Lords, Transport

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many serious accidents involving heavy goods vehicles have taken place in conditions of poor visibility or darkness which might have been avoided through the use of high conspicuity tape.

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

This analysis is not routinely undertaken. High conspicuity retro-reflective tape, when used, is applied to the rear and sides of heavy vehicles and trailers to improve conspicuity, particularly in the hours of darkness and in poor visibility conditions such as heavy rain. The tape is likely to have most effect, therefore, on side or rear impact accidents occurring in those conditions.

In 2005 (the latest year for which figures are available) in Great Britain there were seven fatal and 25 serious accidents involving HGVs of 7.5 tonnes or over, hit in the rear or side, in rainy daylight conditions, and 40 fatal and 138 serious in fine or rainy conditions during the hours of darkness. Using the estimates of effectiveness set out in the Loughborough University report on retro-reflective tape, such tape might have helped to avoid 10 fatal and 36 serious HGV accidents in 2005. However, the report also pointed out that its findings are subject to very considerable uncertainty. For example, results were based on research comparing vehicles having no conspicuity markings at all with vehicles fitted with retro-reflective tape. In this country HGVs are already equipped with side marker lamps, side retro-reflectors and retro-reflective rear marker plates. Therefore the effect of the tape might not be as great here as in some other countries.

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