Call for bin lorries in north of Scotland to be fitted with advanced brakes

Six people died and 15 were injured when a driver lost consciousness behind the wheel and drove into shoppers in Glasgow in 2014
Six people died and 15 were injured when a driver lost consciousness behind the wheel and drove into shoppers in Glasgow in 2014
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Only a quarter of the 267 bin lorries in the north of Scotland have the life-saving braking system recommended after six people died in the Glasgow crash four years ago.

All new vehicles ordered by Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highland councils will include the advanced electronic braking systems (AEBS), but existing fleets are not being fitted with the technology.

Six people died and 15 were injured when lorry driver Harry Clarke lost consciousness behind the wheel and drove into a crowd of Christmas shoppers in Glasgow city centre on 22 December, 2014,

The tragedy prompted a fatal accident inquiry which resulted in a number of safety recommendations being made by Sheriff John Beckett, QC.

A key recommendation issued to councils and other organisations was to have advanced electronic braking systems (AEBS) fitted on large vehicles used for picking up refuse “wherever it is reasonably practicable to do so”.

Sheriff Beckett also suggested authorities to explore the possibility of retrofitting the technology to their lorries without AEBs where possible.

New information provided by Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highland councils has shown that of the 267 bin lorries in operation in the four regions, just 67 of them are equipped with AEBS – around 25 per cent of the total.

Last night, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said local councils should “do all they can to ensure lorries are safe to use”.

Although all four of the councils are ensuring AEBS is on new bin lorries, they have been unable to retrofit many of their vehicles in the fleet.

A statement from Moray Council – where just five of the authority’s 35 bin lorries are fitted with AEBS – said the authority is following makers’ advice that fitting the technology to the older vehicles’ complex wiring looms would invalidate the warranty, so have decided to “stick to manufacturer’s systems”.

Meanwhile Aberdeen City Council – where 23 of 59 lorries have the potentially life-saving technology installed – said that vehicles bought before November 2015 cannot be retrofitted “due to their design”, but that replacement vehicles would be kitted out. A Highland Council spokesman said that of the 109 bin lorries in operation across the region, 20 have AEBS and that although it can be fitted to the older trucks, it has come with all new trucks.