To Commissioner for Transport,
A fatal traffic accident involving a cyclist and a truck driver in Yuen Long on 28th January has come to our attention. We urge the Transport Department to establish a “Heavy Vehicle Vision Standard” (HVVS) to secure the safety of all road users and work towards ‘Vision Zero’ – an international approach that aims at zero fatality and serious injury from road accidents.
As a local group concerning Hong Kong’s transport planning and urban design, we advocate for positive changes with a vision that street planning and design in Hong Kong will be people centred and friendly to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
Starting from 2022, the installation of side guard systems such as side-facing radar across the European Union will be mandatory for all heavy vehicles. A study estimates that side guard systems can reduce pedestrian and pedal cyclist fatalities by 50 to 74 percent and 17 to 27 percent respectively . In 2019 Transport for London of the United Kingdom launched the Direct Vision Standard and the heavy goods vehicles safety permit system which will be enforced from March 2021 . All heavy vehicles over 12 tons must fulfill certain safety standards and apply for a permit to enter the city, otherwise, drivers may be subject to penalty.
Taking reference from the Direct Vision Standard, we propose a “Heavy Vehicle Vision Standard” (HVVS) to be introduced with a grace period. HVVS is a rating system that grades heavy vehicles based on the installed vision devices such as close-range detectors, side protection devices, rear mirrors, warning alarms, and signs. The grace period allows professional drivers sufficient time to install vision devices. The requirements for fulfilling the standard shall be met at the end of the grace period. An ex-gratia payment scheme should also be organised to provide drivers with financial aid. The vision devices could help avoid traffic and pedestrian accidents related to inner-wheel-difference and blind spots of heavy vehicles.
As the Ex-gratia Payment Scheme under the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is going to phase out Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles , we urge the Transport Department to take this opportunity to launch HVVS. Heavy vehicle drivers can thus consider together the cost of vehicle replacement and installation of vision devices.