Cardiff Council deploys impact protection vehicles

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Cardiff Council has invested in two new Mercedes-Benz impact protection vehicles designed to increase the safety of road workers in the city.

Based on a low-entry 18-tonne Econic chassis supplied by South Wales Dealer Euro Commercials, the impact protection vehicles are the subject of a lease agreement with Swansea-based Days Fleet, a supplier to the authority.

The coning trucks’ bodywork has been purpose-designed and built by traffic management vehicle firm Acklea at its facilities in Hampshire and Wiltshire.

Fabricated from galvanised steel and aluminium, the bodies are fitted with Nissen LED light arrows and Traffix Scorpion attenuators that crush in progressive stages, simplifying the process and reducing the cost of replacing parts.

Tested to 70mph and approved by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the attenuators feature a curved design that redirects side angle impacts away from the rear corner of the truck to offer full-width protection along the entire length of the cushion and resist damage from nuisance knocks.

The attenuators’ ‘crash cushion’ is curved to redirect side angle impacts away from the rear corner of the truck

The Econic chassis features a deep, panoramic windscreen that means drivers sit lower than they would in a conventional truck, enabling them to make eye contact with cyclists and other vulnerable road users at junctions and in traffic, through a fully glazed, folding passenger door specified by Cardiff Council.

Furthermore, cross-cab access also means that drivers can use the bus-style door to get in and out on the kerb side, rather than having to contend with passing traffic. Other safety features include the Active Brake Assist 4 emergency braking system with pedestrian recognition.

Fully air-suspended, and with air-conditioned cabs, both trucks are 1830L models. The 220kW (299hp) outputs from their 7.7-litre in-line six-cylinder engines are transmitted to the road via six-speed Allison automatic gearboxes.

The folding bus-style passenger door enables the driver to to get in and out of the vehicle on the kerb side

While the cone-carrying Econics are the first trucks that Days Fleet has sourced from Euro Commercials, Cardiff Council also operates a number of Mercedes-Benz vehicles including 4×4 and 4×2 gritters, vacuum and jetting combinations for drainage work, as well as 7.5-tonne Fuso Canters supplied by the dealer, which have tipping, refuse collection and traffic management bodies.

Richard Jones, procurement and contracts manager – core fleet, Cardiff Council, said the new impact protection vehicles were much better suited to their role than the rented trucks they had replaced.

“We went out to tender for a low-entry vehicle that could be used for a broad range of road traffic management operations, including lane closures, barrier work and general repairs. In terms of its specification and cost-effectiveness the Econic was clearly the best solution.

“With its investment in these highly specified vehicles the council has resolved the operational issues its highways team was facing.”

Cardiff Council said it will maintain the Econics in-house at its College Road workshop, close to the city centre. As with its other Mercedes-Benz and Fuso vehicles though, it will use Euro Commercials for warranty and technical support, as well as parts deliveries.

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