Highways England turns up the pressure on lorry safety

12/04/2021
Chris Ames

Highways England has said trials of new HGV safety technology have proved hugely successful and that it plans to roll the system out at strategic route locations across the country.

Funded under its Designated Fund for innovation, the government-owned company’s Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention Team (CVIPT) backed a pilot of the WheelRight quartz senor system at Keele Services on the M6.

It went on to run year-long trials with John Lewis at Milton Keynes, AW Jenkinson Transport at Penrith, and the DVSA check site at Cuerden on the M62.

One in 12 of the 100,000 tyres checked were found to be underinflated and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) identified 5,000 overweight vehicles a month.

The WheelRight system comprises a set of high-intensity strobe lights, all-weather cameras and drive-over pressure instruments – all collecting large amounts of data within seconds, which is analysed to provide results instantly.

Reports include: tyre pressures (pass or fail based on predetermined levels); tread depths (pass or fail based on specified levels); tyre temperatures (early identification of problem tyres or wheels); tyre condition (via a 360o photographic image of the tread); and Weigh in Motion data/axle weights.

The CVIPT, which championed the system along with other commercial vehicle safety initiatives, scooped Highways England Chairman’s Award and the Excellence in Safety Innovation Award at the third Highways England Awards.

Highways England chief highway engineer Mike Wilson said: ‘We are constantly looking for ways to ensure everyone who travels or works on our network gets home safe and well and CVIPT can be very proud of the work they are doing to help us achieve this.

‘The awards that the team have won not only endorses their work, but also the companies and partners helping to bring forward the ground-breaking innovations employed to embed improved safety in the commercial vehicle sector.’

The DVSA’s director of enforcement, Marian Kitson, added: ‘We’re really pleased that vehicle safety has been recognised in this way, and that DVSA and Highways England continue to work in partnership exploring new and innovative ways of ensuring the compliant operation of commercial vehicles on the roads network.’

Highways England said other projects the CVIPT has brought forward include working with tyre firm Bridgestone to analyse the causes of tyre-related incidents and tyre damage by analysing 1,000 pieces of debris, launching a free smart phone app in collaboration with TRL that simulates HGVs blind spots, and working with the Health and Safety Executive and industry to drive forward load security best practice.

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