JBDL, Transport for London (TfL) and bus operator Metroline trial Vehicle Avoidance Lighting System – trial completed

Transport for London and bus operator Metroline trialled the Vehicle Avoidance Lights (VALs) also known as ‘Optional Side Marker Down Lights’ (OSMDLS) on 24 London Buses.

Interviews were conducted at the end of the trial and included a selection of bus drivers, a garage manager, a police officer, a claims manager, a haulage truck owner/driver and a coach workshop manager. The interviews from the above groups were found to be positive and in favour of the ‘Optional Side Marker’ downlights (OSMDLS). The participants discussed various advantages of the lights; they suggested that the system made driving the bus easier: It makes life easier definitely, it makes life easy.” All of the participants agreed with this sentiment. They also expressed the opinion that the lights would be especially useful for Central London routes where there is a large number of passengers and pedestrians. None of the drivers had any incidents or near misses when they had the lights operational on the bus.

London Bus Driver Interview

10% Points Reduction in Road Users

Nearing the Bus

The proportion of all road users (combination of cycles, PTWs and ‘others’) who entered the measurement box when the RH indicator was activated reduced across all conditions from 75% in the BASELINE (unlit) condition to 65% in the FLASHING condition. This positive reduction may be consider by some, of small benefit. However, this still equates to a 10% point reduction in road users nearing the RH side of the bus in the FLASHING condition when using this fairly well lit bus route. This is without any information being given out to the general public about the lights. The bus was being given more space by more road users when approaching it. With the help of further education and safety campaigns on this more conspicuous feature and highlighting the ‘area of high risk’, we may experience fewer road users nearing the sides of larger vehicles and so making our roads safer! View the ‘flashing’ feature in the Videos section in the menu bar at the top of this page.


 Vehicle Avoidance Lights as seen in


So the new Vehicle Avoidance Light (VAL), all-in-one unit was designed and included a side marker lamp and the OSMDL with ‘patent granted’ adjustable angular increments. Further angular increments have been added so that the ‘area of high risk’ can be projected out further, when being fitted closer to the ground. The VALs with OSMDLS can be fitted to buses, trucks, trailers, vans, motorhomes, caravans and even some cars.

As already suggested the ‘area of high risk’ is not just a warning to other road users to steer clear of it, but it also reminds VRU’s of their own safety obligations by not getting too close, by keeping the ‘area of high risk’ unobstructed. We all have a responsibility and obligation to ensure each other’s safety by staying safely distanced from each other.

Even if VRU’s are distracted, perhaps when using the mobile phone, listening to personal headphones or they could be hearing impaired, they are not sole reliant on audio warnings. They can see the ‘area of high risk’ from the projected footprint (daylight intensities permitting) and react accordingly.

Jimmy Beam Down Lights

For a few years now many companies in the logistics industry have been using the Jimmy Beam Down Light (JBDL) system. The amber vehicle downlight has been accepted by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) on the 05.05.2015 and is officially referred to as an ‘Optional Side Marker’ – downlights (OSMDLS).

It should be noted that OSMDLS are not a replacement for current side marker lights per se. They are designed as an adjacent lateral lighting facility and they are fitted along the complete sides of the vehicle from front to rear. They are spaced much closer together than ordinary side markers so as to project a continual ‘area of high risk’ along the vehicle (daylight intensities permitting).

The ‘area of high risk’ should be kept unobstructed by both the Vulnerable Road User (VRU), when nearing the principal vehicle, and by the principal vehicle driver when overtaking cyclists to ensure safe passage. This is in line with Operation Close Pass which is currently being ran by 39 of the 43 Police Forces in the UK.

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