The death of a nine-year old child hit by a truck on the way to school January 31, has led to public pressure for mandatory electronic driver-assistance systems on heavy vehicles.
With 69,100 signatures, a petition by the initiative “Saving Lives in the Blind Corner” has called for all commercial vehicles nationwide to be immediately retrofitted with sensors and automated emergency breaking systems. The initiative would also prohibit foreign vehicles lacking these systems and pressure the European Commission to fast-track plans for mandatory installation – currently due by 2024.
An average of 16 pedestrians die in truck related accidents every year, according to the Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC), lowered “by 60%” if such system were widespread.
The online petition was the brainchild of Viennese entrepreneur Helge Fahrnberger, founder of the media observation platform Kobuk and the digital mapping company Toursprung, and submitted to Transportation Minister Norbert Hofer (FPÖ). Hofer promptly rejected the petition in favor of infrastructure measures, including banning right-turns for trucks and authorizing the installation of mirrors at dangerous intersections – which he called “an affordable solution.” Opposition leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner (SPÖ) challenged the decision, saying “the safety of our children should be priceless.”