The Sunday Times says

Taming roaring hulks on the road

A snap perception is not often confirmed by facts but it is when it comes to the menace posed by heavy vehicles on busy roads.

Figures show that heavy vehicles and buses are involved in a quarter of all road deaths, although they account for under 7 per cent of the vehicle population.

The culprits appear to be speeding drivers. Their recklessness is amplified by their vehicles' hulking presence at scenes of some accidents. Motorists often wonder why those at the wheels of barrelling beasts - tipper trucks, buses, prime movers and tankers - do not change their habits. They would applaud a recommendation by a road safety task force for a trial next year to gauge the effectiveness of using tracking technology for heavy vehicles.

Of particular interest is the use of tachographs which track and record how fast and far vehicles travel.

But technology isn't enough. Europe has long made tachographs mandatory for heavy vehicles, and authorities there know that these, like speed limiters and other technological devices, can be tampered with.

For now, speeding can be curbed only if technology is applied in concert with enforcement and enlightened industrial practices.

Another common perception is that there are just not enough anti-speed monitors on roads to make a significant difference. Cameras, patrolling officers and other road users ought to be harnessed to deter speed demons. Driverless vehicles of the future might be better regulated but many jobs will be lost as a result.

Human drivers are more flexible and intelligent in reacting to potential safety hazards. If they can add speed discipline to their attributes, there will be one less reason to let robots manage the useful giants operating on roads.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Taming roaring hulks on the road'. Print Edition | Subscribe