Emily Hardy, Marketing Manager at Brigade Electronics UK, discusses the variety of driving regulations in the UK and Europe along with Brigade’s easy reference infographic outlining the rules and equipment requirements across countries
For fleet operators managing vehicles travelling cross-border between the UK and Europe, understanding the different road legislations and safety specifications can be confusing.
Road safety has come a long way in the last 50 years and global efforts have meant our roads are now safer than ever before.
The number of people losing their lives on Europe’s roads has fallen over the last 10 years by 37% on average. However, this figure falls short of the EU’s target of 50% and, sadly, deaths and injuries from road collisions remain high in all countries across Europe.
Efforts to improve road safety have resulted in a raft of varying road driving regulations, rules, and specifications in the UK and Europe for different types of vehicles. Road regulations are reviewed and put in place by a country’s relevant governing body, so inevitably rules differ from nation to nation. The cross-over between left-hand lane driving to right-hand lane driving between the UK and Europe further complicates matters. This can often make it challenging for those operating fleets that travel across multiple borders.
Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) reported that 99% of goods transported by UK registered HGVs in 2020 were to or from the EU15* and that 18% of these journeys were between the UK and France.
In October 2020, the Direct Vision Standard was introduced in the UK. The first legislation of its kind in Europe, it specifies that all goods vehicles weighing more than 12 tonnes require a permit to drive into Greater London, including vehicles from outside the UK.
To qualify for a permit, vehicles are issued with a star rating and those rated 0-1 star (0-3 stars from 2024) will need to be equipped with the DVS Safe System. These include side cameras, ultrasonic sensors for the nearside of the vehicle and a warning alarm, which is activated when the vehicle is turning. However, for vehicles from outside the UK, this can cause difficulties due to the nuances of legalities for commercial vehicle safety technology in their own country. For example, in Germany fitting alarms with speaking voices is not permitted and operators could face hefty fines if they are found in breach of the rules. Therefore, if you are a UK operator fitting the Safe System to your fleet and your vehicles regularly travel to Germany, then you should not fit a warning alarm that includes a spoken voice alert feature. Recommended alternatives are White Sound® reversing alarms, such as Brigade’s bbs-tek® White Sound Reversing Alarm and the bbs-TI Turn Indicator Warning Alarm.
Recent updates to the Highway Code in the UK are also having an impact on HGVs with the introduction of the Highway Code Hierarchy. As a result of these changes, lorry drivers are now ranked as having the greatest responsibility towards other road users and are more likely to burden the blame in the event of an incident. This is making vehicle safety technology in the UK more important than ever with many operators opting to fit vehicles with the DVS recommendations as a result.
Image: CAREYE® – ADAC Performace Test Winner
From July 2022, all long trucks in Germany that weigh more than 60 tonnes and are 25.25 metres in length must abide by Abbiegeassistent. Alongside this, the regulations recommend (but don’t require) that trucks weighing over 7.5 tonnes are fitted with a side camera and a side sensor warning system to alert drivers to objects and people in the nearside blind spot – this is especially important when the vehicle is turning right.
Germany’s Abbiegeassistent rules also apply in Vienna, Austria.
From January 2021, new safety regulations were introduced in France requiring all vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, whether they are used for goods or passenger transport, to display blind spot stickers. These stickers, known as ‘angles morts’, must be clearly and appropriately displayed on both the sides and the rear informing others of the vehicle’s blind spots. HGVs operating in France without the appropriate stickers will risk a penalty fine of up to €750.
Additionally, motor vehicles should be constructed or fitted with one or more indirect vision safety systems, such as mirrors, with a field view that does not include a blind spot likely to obscure a vehicle about to pass it. Controls for such devices should also be easily accessible to the driver while the vehicle is in motion.
As part of these rules, it is recommended that operators fit vehicles with the UK’s DVS Safe System. Brigade’s DVS Safe System Kits are available in two different types – one for rigid vehicles and one for articulated vehicles. Both kits are compliant with DVS as well as all relevant regional laws across the EU, meaning fleet operators can be confident that the systems will meet all necessary requirements.
To simplify these rules and driving regulations across the UK and Europe, Brigade has produced a handy infographic providing a country-by-country summary of the most appropriate and suitable safety devices for vehicles travelling cross-border.