Thought leadership: we hear from our MD about road safety regulations

At Brigade, we have been making it our mission to save lives with high quality commercial vehicle safety systems since 1976.  

Alongside his father and founder of Brigade, Chris Hanson-Abbott OBE, our managing director Philip Hanson-Abbott has been part of the road safety story since 1978. Here, Philip discusses how road regulations have evolved during this time and explains how he sees the global road safety landscape changing in the future.

“We have a lot to be proud of in the UK.  As well as our roads ranking third safest in the world and second safest in Europe, we have been leading the cause for enhancing road and worksite safety through the provision of cutting-edge commercial vehicle safety systems since the mid-70s – a time when many countries still hadn’t even heard of or seen a reversing alarm.

“While we have always actively encouraged companies to consider retrofitting one of our cameras, sensors or alarms to their vehicles, one thing that has made a lasting impact over the last 50 years is the regular reviews and updates to road and worksite safety regulations which have backed commercial vehicle safety systems, such as Brigade’s 360-degree camera system, the Backeye®360, as essential pieces of equipment for eliminating blind spots and avoiding collisions, injuries and fatalities.

“However, a survey carried out by Brigade in partnership with Commercial Motor and Motor Transport magazines revealed that one fifth of operators have no plans to use road safety technology, with 44% of them citing that it was not seen as relevant to the operation.

“London’s Direct Vision Standard as well as recent updates to the UK’s Highway Code and the introduction of the Highway Code Hierarchy are putting more emphasis than ever on drivers of large vehicles, who will bear the burden of responsibility in the event of an incident. These changes, which are already in effect across the UK, mean fitting vehicle safety technology should no longer be considered as a ‘might do’ but as an essential ‘must-do’.

“Such standards have proven to be a catalyst for positive change among fleet operators and vehicle manufacturers with many OEMs now making vehicles to address these changes and fitting cameras and alarms on the assembly line. For the UK and many of the countries we operate in this is great news. However, globally, there is still a long way to go to ensure that safety standards are consistent across continents and that vehicle operators are equipped with the necessary information and expertise to ensure their fleets are as safe as they can be.

“Fitting cameras is clearly life-saving in terms of eliminating blind spots on large vehicles. However, as a passive technology, cameras alone are not the whole solution because they cannot actively alert a driver to take action – if the driver is not looking, they will not see. This is where active technology, such as Brigade’s latest addition and next generation of collision avoidance systems, is now making a big difference, assisting drivers with predictive visual and audible or voice warnings of any impending contact with an object or vulnerable road user, so they can take immediate action. Behind this technology is the introduction of artificial intelligence and careful research by Brigade to create a system with an algorithm that is able to constantly gather object detection data, such as the speed and distance of a cyclist from the vehicle, which can calculate the risk of a collision to notify the driver accordingly. Such technology is minimising the occurrence of false alerts, increasing accuracy of the notifications and reducing potential fatigue caused by bogus warnings for drivers.

“As our roads and workplaces evolve, so do our vehicles, and it is important that we continue our research around these updates to support and maintain the hard work we have already invested in keeping vulnerable road users and ground workers safe. For example, our award-winning AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System) – the Quiet Vehicle Sounder – is addressing the safety concerns about modern electric and hybrid vehicles, which are almost silent compared to fossil fuelled alternatives when travelling at low speeds. Activated at low speeds, this system uses Brigade’s multi-frequency bbs-tek® White Sound® technology to enable pedestrians to instantly locate where and what direction the vehicle is coming from and take evasive action if required.

“As we look to the future, it is more important than ever that we all work together, using the knowledge and expertise we have, to embrace the necessary changes and prevent the numerous avoidable injuries and deaths of countless people every year. By continuing to research, engineer and promote high-quality safety technology, we can improve road and workplace safety for everyone and continue our mission to save lives.”

For further information about Brigade and our range of commercial vehicle safety products, please speak to one of our friendly team on 01322 420300 or email [email protected]