Scania’s Training Services Manager, Mark Agnew, answers some frequently asked questions about trucks
With over 20 years as a professional truck driver in Europe, Mark has worked at Scania (Great Britain) Limited for over 23 years. He oversees a team of almost 30 Driver Trainers who put around 900 new drivers through their licence every year and training existing drivers to be the best they can be for safety, fuel and environmental efficiency.
What is the difference in field of vision between a car and a lorry?
“The driver’s seat in a truck is much higher than that of a car, which gives better vision of the road in front as they can see over other traffic. It can also help give the truck driver the ability to see over hedges, and low walls on side roads, which gives them advance warning of vehicles approaching the junction so they can anticipate changes in the road situation in advance.
“However it’s worth being aware that because of the size of the vehicle, there can be blind spots along the sides of a truck and while correct mirror adjustments and camera systems limit these, so it may be difficult for the driver to see you. Additions such as the city safe window also can help drivers. Similarly, many trucks have no vision to the rear – again, this can be helped with the aid of a camera system. Drivers are trained to use the side mirrors when reversing and in public places will often use a reversing assistant or a ‘banksman’.”
What tools does a lorry have to help them improve vision?
“There are a multitude of tools that a truck driver has to help improve their vision and awareness of what is around them. EC Law requires all vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight to have devices, such as mirrors or CCTV, to improve the driver’s field of vision down the sides and in front of the truck. In practice, this means that in addition to the wide-angle standard mirrors, two on each side, trucks have a downward pointing kerb side mirror giving a clear view of the nearside of the cab area and a front mirror giving a clear view along the front of the truck, all to aid vision of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Increasingly, trucks are also being fitted with CCTV equipment to give vision to the rear when reversing and in many cases to supplement the standard mirrors. With the introduction of the Direct Vision Standards in London, we’re proud to say that our new L-cab has a five start rating.”
Why do lorries straddle 2 lanes sometimes when turning?
“The length and width of a truck means that it is more difficult to turn than a car and a driver must have several factors in mind. The rear of the truck can swing outwards when turning – this is called tail swing. If the driver feels like this might hit other road users, then they will often position the truck to block both lanes. In addition, the rear or trailer wheels will track to the inside of the front wheels; on a tight turn extra space is needed so that the rear wheels of the truck do not mount the kerb, which could endanger pedestrians, other road users and buildings. Again, the driver may straddle both lanes to make sure the truck has sufficient room to make the turn safely. So effectively, they’re using both lanes to ensure that the turn is as safe as possible. Drivers will appreciate other road users who give them plenty of space to carry out their manoeuvres.”
Why does it always seem whatever the weather a lorry does 60 on the motorway, does rain not impact them as much?
“The legal speed limit for a truck on Motorways is 60mph. However, all trucks have their speed limited to a maximum of 56mph by law, using a calibrated speed limiter. Trucks are accurately calibrated to this speed, but the speedometer on cars will typically overstate their speed by around 5% to ensure they comply with Construction & Use regulations for speedometers, therefore it can appear to car drivers that trucks are going slightly faster. Truck drivers also have higher seating positions which can give them a better view of the road in light rain and meaning they are less impacted by spray from other vehicles, but of course, all drivers should drive at a speed which is safe for the conditions and bear in mind the increased braking distances in the wet. As a point of interest, all trucks today are fitted with spray suppressing mud-flaps to improve vision for other road users in rain.”
What does carrying a heavy load mean for steering, accelerating and braking?
“Carrying a heavy load can have a big impact on the trucks steering, accelerating and braking. Trucks accelerate more slowly than cars because of their higher overall mass, empty or loaded. Steering and braking systems are designed to take full account of the load being carried and trucks generally have braking assistance systems. One example of this would be that Scania vehicles are fitted with Advanced Emergency Braking systems. All truck drivers are trained to allow extra braking distance and use lower steering speeds because of the substantial extra mass.”
Why does it take so long for lorries to overtake each other?
“Although speed limiters must be set to no more than 56 mph for trucks, some fleets decide to set a slightly lower maximum speed as a fuel saving measure. But as you can imagine, overtaking with only a 2mph advantage can take quite a while, this is why drivers often use the road gradients to their advantage. To put it into perspective, typical walking pace is 4 mph. Imagine how long it takes to walk past a stationary truck with a 40 foot trailer at 4 mph? The double that time for a speed difference of 2 mph or multiply it by four for a 1 mph difference in speed.
“Some two lane dual carriageways have daytime bans on trucks overtaking to minimise the inconvenience to car drivers.”
Scania is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses for heavy transport applications. Employing more than 49,000 people, Scania operates in more than 100 countries. As well as supplying trucks, buses and coaches in the UK, Scania also supplies engines for industrial and marine applications and provides a range of complementary and ancillary services in support of its products and customers.
Next time you see a fire truck behind you, take a look as it might be a Scania…