Reflective markings to be compulsory for trucks in 2011
In the future, the dark sides of trucks will no more frighten pedestrians on unlit roads when the new ”reflector directive” issued by the European Union is introduced from 2011.
To improve road safety, the Ministry of Transport and Communications last summer enacted a new statute requesting that all trucks are to be made more conspicuous by marking their sides and rear using retro-reflective marking tape.
Based on the European Commission Directive of June 2007, such retro-reflective contour markings will be mandatory on newly registered heavy goods vehicles from July 2011 onwards.
Reflective tapes can be used already earlier, but so far only few hauliers have done so. Over the years, the present rolling stock will be replaced by new trucks, and there will be reflective markings on all newly registered vehicles, notes Juhani Hienonen from the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
In the transitional period, the usage is likely to be varied, as the requirement does not apply to old trailers, and haulage companies can attach the tapes to the tractor unit only.
For the time being, the new directive does not apply to Russian trucks. However, it may be introduced in Russia as well, as retro-reflective contour markings are also included in the international agreement concerning motor vehicles.
After first opposing the tapes as unnecessary and expensive, the Finnish Transport and Logistics SKAL has now changed its attitude.
”By no means do we oppose the new statute if it is felt that traffic safety will be clearly improved. But of course everything comes with a price-ticket”, says transport expert Petri Murto from SKAL.
According to the calculations made by SKAL, the fitting of approximately 3,000 new vehicles including their trailers with retro-reflective tapes, as well as the maintenance of such tapes, would cost around EUR 10 million annually.
The argumentation for the new statute calculates that the price would be rather less, at EUR 2.5 million, while the social costs of one traffic fatality would be around two million euros.
The fitting of one vehicle with reflective tapes costs EUR 500 to 3,000, depending on the structure and size of the vehicle.
The initiative to use such reflective materials came from Germany, after several accidents had happened in the country with a passenger car having collided with a truck parked on the roadside.
In Finland, two accidents have occurred this autumn, in which the driver of a passenger car died after having collided with a log truck that was making a turn in the dark and was at right-angles across the road and "invisible".
From 2011 onwards, a heavy goods vehicle can be registered only if it is in compliance with regulations. The maintenance of the retro-reflective tapes will be monitored by vehicle inspection authorities.
In recent years, a total of 2,500 to 3,000 new trucks over 7.5 tonnes have been registered in Finland. At the same time, some 3,000 to 3,500 trailers have been registered, of which 2,000 to 2,500 have been semi-trailers.
Approximately five fatal accidents involving a heavy goods vehicle in the dark occur in Finland annually.
According to a German report, retro-reflecting tapes are likely to reduce the number of fatalities by 165, the number of seriously injured by 857, and the number of mild injuries by 1,836 cases in 15 EU states every year.
Ministry of Transport and Communications
Finnish Transport and Logistics SKAL