One of the UK’s most recognisable supermarket chains Sainsbury’s this week launched a truck developed specifically for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.The vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz Antos 1824L – which was unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson at City Hall – features 360 degree monitors, extra side lighting for road users at night and low side guards for cyclist safety. It was designed by Sainsbury’s in collaboration with Solomon and Mercedes. The launch took place at a Transport for London Safer Lorry consultation on removing existing exemptions to ensure that all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes have side guards and class 6 close proximity mirrors. Impressively, all Sainsbury’s vehicles already have these features as standard.
There are seven vehicles ready for use right now with another nine on the way. They will first be used in London, where the fatality rate for cyclists in 2014 has already exceeded the total for the whole of 2013.
Sainsbury’s Retail & Operations Director Roger Burnley said: ‘This is an important step in our work to make London’s roads safer. We’ve put an enormous amount of thought and research into creating a truck that we hope will be the safest on the road – for all road users.’
The truck has been fitted with an array of safety features including:-
- New video technology in the cab giving 360 degree vision of the surrounding road
- New proximity sensors down the sides of the lorry that beep to alert the driver to other road users
- Side guard extensions and reflective infills to help stop cyclists from falling under the vehicle
- More downlights along the sides that glow at night, giving the driver more visibility of road users in the dark
- A warning sticker to alert road users that they are in the driver’s blind spot
- A tail lift operation warning – so that there will be an audible sound when the tail lift is being lowered for anyone behind the vehicle
- Further driver training on higher safety standards in the truck.
Stylish in appearance, and highly cost-effective in operation, the new Mercedes-Benz Antos heavy-duty distribution range replaces Axor and Actros day cab models. The model range covers 18 or 26-tonne rigid, as a 4×2, 6×2, or on-road 6×4 tractor units. James Colbourne, Head of Strategic Accounts – Trucks for Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd, said: “working in partnership with Sainsbury’s has been an extremely positive and educational experience. In building these vehicles Sainsbury’s have invested heavily in the safety of both cyclists and pedestrians and have built what can only be described as a fleet of some of the safest vehicles on the road. The new Antos as standard already comes fitted with a high level of safety equipment, and with the array of additional measures Sainsbury’s have made our cities a safer place.”
The vehicle also has the latest features to minimise noise for local residents and overall environmental impact. Environmental impact and operating efficiency is reduced by the Kamm tail for maximum aerodynamic benefit and curved slipstream. The body comprises three temperature flexible compartments which can be matched to the day’s payload resulting in less journeys. Reducing noise for residents, the vehicle is fitted with an ultra low noise undermount refrigeration system as well as the tail lift platform and rear floor having a low noise covering. A white noise reversing alarm rather than the usual beep or strident synthesised voice message also minimises noise impact.
Driver health and safety hasn’t been forgotten, either: a drivers airbag is fitted, a rare truck fitment, whilst high visibility red seatbelts are fitted: using brightly coloured seatbelts has been proven to increase driver seatbelt use. LED interior lights are also fitted, which are believed to increase lighting Lux levels within body.
Whilst Sainsbury’s, Mercedes and Solomon have clearly produced a truck which should provide operating economies as well as the safety benefits, the fact remains that cyclist deaths particularly in London, are at an unacceptable level. Moreover, 25% of these deaths are the result of incidents involving HGV’s.
Sadly, whilst most cyclists are law-abiding, some cyclists do ride in an unsafe manner, and Sainsbury’s are to be congratulated on their impressive efforts to help this minority from their own foolhardiness, as well as making the roads that much safer for the law-abiding majority.