A safety charity believes plans for convoys of semi-automated trucks in the UK could help increase road safety.
The Government has approved plans for up to three wirelessly-connected HGVs to travel in convoy. Acceleration, braking and steering would be controlled by the lead vehicle in a concept named platooning.
Each lorry will also have a driver in the cab in case they need to take manual control.
Platooning could ‘enhance road safety’
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “RoSPA supports the multi-stage approach being adopted in this trial, with each phase of testing only beginning if evidence shows that it can be done safely.
“We believe that, in addition to environmental benefits, vehicles travelling in a controlled platoon could also enhance road safety, but the system clearly requires careful research, planning and testing.
“As part of this, there will be a need for driver education so other road users are aware of how to act around a platoon, for example how will lorries travelling in a platoon be identifiable to other road users and how should you react if joining a motorway when a three-vehicle platoon is approaching? We look forward to finding out more about the trial as it progresses.”
Trials expected by end of 2018
The Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England expect the first trials to be carried out on major roads by the end of 2018.
The DfT says the technology could have major benefits, with vehicles in the slipstream using less fuel, lowering emissions and improving air quality.
Transport minister Paul Maynard said: “Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to lower emissions and less congestion.
“But first we must make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads, and that’s why we are investing in these trials.”
Date Published: September 15, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown