Global online retail sales have risen sharply in the last five years with the total amount of spending increasing from 5.9% in 2014 to 8.8% in 2018. In the UK, the average online shopper will spend £1,278 per year purchasing goods online, with 24% shopping at least once a week.

With this growth in online sales comes a greater number of delivery vehicles on the road and an increasing network of self-employed drivers, the majority of whom are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are operating safely.

Researched carried out by the University of London found that UK self-employed drivers and couriers are at a heightened risk of being in a road accident, with one in 10 reporting they’d been injured in a collision. The study also revealed that 63% had not been provided any safety training, and 65% have no safety equipment.

Blind spots on vehicles are a major contributor to collisions, and are often the main reason vulnerable road users are killed or injured. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than half of all road traffic deaths are vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists; for example a larger vehicle turning and not noticing a cyclists due to limited visibility.

Further studies in the US have proved that adding safety technology to HGVs has the potential to prevent up to 63,000 HGV related crashes a year with the use of systems such as 360-degree cameras.

Brigade Electronics UK’s Backeye360 is one such system. It combines images from ultra-wide camera angles resulting in a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the vehicle and surrounding area that is displayed on a monitor in the driver’s cab.

“While large mirrors have traditionally been used to address the issue of blind spots, they cannot completely eliminate them,” said Emily Hardy, Brigade Electronics UK vehicle safety expert.

“Research has shown that in the time it takes a driver to scan four mirrors, assess and then react to hazards, a vehicle could travel as far as 10 metres. However if a vehicle camera safety system is installed this will eliminate blind spots by providing a complete surround view of the vehicle in real time in a single image.

“These are the types of safety products we’d like all distribution drivers to use so that we can make the roads safer.”

Although technology like the Brigade Backeye360 is helping reduce collisions, it is also important the drivers remain vigilant and don’t just fully rely on safety systems alone.

“Fitting technology doesn’t mean a driver’s safety obligations have been met,” Emily continued. “They need to be mindful of other road safety strategies that will help prevent the likelihood of a collision. These include completing relevant training and taking regular breaks while on the road to avoid fatigue.”

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