Almost every urban lorry in Hamburg now has turn-off assistant

Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, urges private companies to retrofit lorries
23 March 2021
Andy Grote, Innensenator

Around 97 per cent of Hamburg's urban lorries over 7.5 tons are now equipped with turn-off assistant systems. The system should ensure that lorry drivers become aware of pedestrians or cyclists in their blind spots in good time and avoid fatal collisions. This comes after the senate agreed in early 2020 to equip all heavy commercial vehicles used by Hamburg's public authorities with turn-off assistants. Around 870 vehicles have since been retrofitted.

Turning assistants to save lives

"We are particularly challenged when the weakest and strongest road users meet and rely on life-saving technology," said Andy Grote, Senator for the Interior. More bicycle traffic requires more safety for cyclists. The total cost of retrofitting lorries comes to around EUR 2 million. Most of the retrofits carried out in 2020 were at the Hamburg Fire Department and the Hamburg City Sanitation Department. Christian Schwarz, Head of the Hamburg Fire Department, has urged cities across Germany to follow Hamburg's lead, and noted. "During time-critical operations especially, the system allows drivers of our emergency vehicles to act safer."

Hamburg leading the way

In 2019, Hamburg was the first major city in Germany to launch a large-scale practical test for turning assistant systems in different types of vehicles. As a result, a framework agreement with manufacturers of such systems was reached in late 2019. This allowed urban authorities to avail of turn assistant systems without having to put them out to tender. The senate later agreed that only lorries equipped with the systems would be ordered from August 1, 2020. "Our goal must be to equip all lorries in Hamburg with the safer turning assistant systems. However, there is still a long way to go before all lorries on Hamburg's roads have this technology," said Michael Hagemann, Senator for Economics.

Private companies need to catch up 

Private companies have make up ground when it comes to equipping their vehicles with safety systems. The EU-wide  introduction of turning assistants for all new lorries and buses takes effect in July 2024 and retrofitting is not obligatory. Several private companies in Hamburg have followed the senate's lead and begun retrofitted their vehicles. The City of Hamburg intends to retrofit vehicles over 3.5 tons before late 2021 and to complete that of the entire municipal vehicle fleet.