Every day, pedestrians and cyclists are put at risk in road traffic from turning HGVs and buses. Such turning manoeuvres often lead to terrible, sometimes fatal accidents. Many of these accidents could be prevented by using turn assist systems.
Turn assist systems are available technical solutions that can save the lives of road users. The systems support HGV and bus drivers in critical driving situations and thus relieve the pressure on them, for example by visual or audible signals alerting them to cyclists that would be at risk if the driver were to perform a turning manoeuvre.
A Europe-wide progressive introduction of mandatory turn assist systems is planned only from July 2022 for new vehicle types and from July 2024 for new vehicles. This is why, in 2018, the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport launched the Turn Assist Scheme to provide incentives at national level for a voluntary commitment to use turn assist systems.
The Turn Assist Scheme includes: establishing safety partnerships with companies, local authorities and organisations which then voluntarily undertake to retrofit their vehicle fleet with turn assist systems and/or purchase new vehicles equipped with turn assist systems.
- Public or private sector entities who do not operate their own fleet can become a safety partner if they undertake to urge their third-party business partners to use turn assist systems and/or insist that the vehicles used be retrofitted with such systems,
- admitting official lobbying organisations to the scheme, which proactively promote it among their members and encourage them to retrofit their vehicles with turn assist systems,
- describing the technical requirements to be met by turn assist systems in order to obtain a general type approval by the Federal Motor Transport Authority,
- implementing a financial assistance programme for the installation of turn assist systems in motor vehicles,
- and procuring new vehicles equipped with turn assist systems for the executive agencies of the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport as well as retrofitting their existing vehicle fleet.
Official safety partners voluntarily undertake
- to purchase HGVs equipped with turn assist systems ex works, and
- to retrofit their existing vehicle fleet as quickly as possible, or
- if they operate only a few or no vehicles of their own: to urge their third-party business partners to use turn assist systems and/or insist that the vehicles used be retrofitted with such systems.
Partners who meet these requirements receive a certificate from the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport appointing them an official safety partner and their names are published on the ministry’s website on the scheme, see further information at the end of this article.
Certified turn assist systems are on the market
The mandatory retrofitting with turn assist systems cannot be regulated at national level because Germany must apply EU type approval legislation to the respective vehicles. EU law establishes a harmonised legal framework for the approval of new vehicles and systems, components and separate technical units intended for the use in such vehicles which applies throughout the EU and thus also in Germany. This guarantees fair competition in the European Single Market and the registration of these vehicles as well as their circulation on the road.
Based on research findings of the Federal Highway Research Institute, in April 2017, the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport filed a proposal for a new regulation at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to establish, for the first time, binding technical requirements to be met by turn assist systems. Following long and intensive discussions in the bodies of UNECE, the proposal was extended regarding the traffic situations in other countries and, finally, unanimously adopted by UNECE in March 2019. On 15 November 2019, UN Regulation No. 151 entered into force and is now binding under international law. Manufacturers can now also obtain international approvals for these systems.
The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport has successfully lobbied at the European Commission and among the other EU Member States for the mandatory installation of turn assist systems. The scope of application that was originally discussed (goods vehicles of 7.5 t or more) could be extended to goods vehicles of 3.5 t or more as well as buses and coaches. The majority of the other EU Member States rejected the mandatory installation for all respective new vehicles as of 2020, which was proposed by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport in this context. As imposed by the new EU Regulation on the general safety and the protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users (Regulation (EU) 2019/2144), the installation will become mandatory for new vehicle types from 6 July 2022 and for new vehicles from 7 July 2024. From the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport’s perspective, this is too late.
Therefore, Germany is already now exploiting national options to accelerate the installation. To this end, the Turn Assist Scheme was launched in July 2018. In addition, the technical conditions for a quick spread of certified systems were created.