As part of its ongoing campaign of initiatives to raise the bar in construction logistics safety, O’Donovan Waste Disposal is trialling a Mercedes-Benz Econic skip lorry.
As part of the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety (CLOCS) programme, the company is carrying out a trial of the vehicle which was originally designed for municipal waste work, but has since been made available for the construction sector.
O’Donovan is leading the way as one of the first waste operators to hit London’s streets with the Econic skip lorry thanks to the unique safety features it delivers, offering the driver an unparalleled view of vulnerable road users.
The lorry has a wide field of vision with its deep panoramic windscreen, a fully glazed floor to ceiling ‘bus style’ nearside door and lowered driving position which puts the driver at eye level with both cyclists and pedestrians. The glazed door also provides direct visibility of the nearside blindspot, a particularly vulnerable position for cyclists.
The aim of the trial is to enable O’Donovan to assess whether the vehicle’s design will improve safety via its all-round cab visibility, but also help reduce cognitive pressure on the driver, who is required to monitor multiple mirrors and additional safety technology. The vehicle will also be assessed for accessibility, manoeuvrability and drivers’ reactions to on-road use.
As a CLOCS Champion, O’Donovan has made multiple changes in recent years to its operation and has a clear expectation of all its drivers to embrace the forward-thinking ideas that are generated. The unconventional design of the Econic prompted some initial reluctance among the company’s team of 85 drivers, as Managing Director Jacqueline O’Donovan explains, “The Econic with its dust cart cab and skip loader body is an alien concept to us. But the whole purpose of CLOCS is about bold steps and cultural change, so we are rising to the challenge of the unknown.”
O’Donovan currently operates three other safety enhanced skip lorries which are a result of collaboration between the company and vehicle manufacturers: a Volvo FL818 and the DAF FA LF220, both with the driving position lowered and nearside lower door having been glazed, to increase drivers’ direct vision of other road users. Also the MAN TGM BB with revised suspension to lower the cab.
“Our drivers like the features of these more traditionally-styled vehicles, with the conventional cab design,” said Jacqueline. “But as a progressive company known for brave decisions, we are keen to ensure we are also making the best decisions to help further protect vulnerable road users, hence trials of multiple vehicles. Longer term we will look to replace our fleet with the most successful models”.
Basil Vinnicombe, Head of Special Products UK Truck Division Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd, commented: “Since showcasing the vehicle at both the London Cycle Show and CLOCS we’ve had a tremendous amount of interest, not only from companies who have recognised the Econic’s enhanced levels of safety and what it can offer, but also from interested focus groups including TFL and London Cyclist. Working with O’Donovan Waste Disposal helps us understand the changing needs of the sector and ensures we continue to deliver an industry leading product”.