One of the UK’s leading fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers has adopted a fresh new approach to road safety by commissioning two of the first temperature-controlled Mercedes-Benz Econic trucks.

Reynold’s new ‘Urban Prototype’ has a deep, panoramic windscreen and a full-length, folding side door allowing the driver, who sits much lower than in a conventional distribution vehicle, to make direct eye contact with cyclists and pedestrians at junctions or in traffic queues.

The fruit and veg suppliers’ 18-tonners are also fitted with Sentinel camera systems that give the driver a 360-degree view and also sound an audible warning when a cyclist is alongside, as well as strobe lighting for use when crews are unloading at night.

The Econic’s standout low-entry cab has just two steps rather than the traditional four, which also reduces the risk of access and egress injuries for the operator’s driver and ‘van assistant’, while easy through-cab access allows both to enter and exit safely on the non-traffic side.

Reynolds is already accredited to Bronze standard by FORS (the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme) – the company’s decision to commission its latest Mercedes-Benz trucks reflects its commitment to safety and determination to “go for Gold”.

Both are Econic 1830 models with state-of-the-art, high-torque straight-six engines that transmit their 220 kW (299 hp) outputs via standard-fit Allison automatic gearboxes.

Their single compartment insulated bodies, meanwhile, are by Gray & Adams. Features include a curved front to the roof which blends into the cab’s air deflector, the manufacturer’s latest, aerodynamically profiled panel cappings, access doors on both sides and a 1,500kg Dhollandia tail-lift.

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London (TfL), said: “I’m pleased that Reynolds is at the vanguard of forward-thinking companies by using safer lorries with higher levels of driver direct vision. Our recently-published Direct Vision Standard will help other companies bring their fleets up to modern safety standards and make London’s roads safer for all.”

The trucks leave Reynolds’ National Distribution Centre at Waltham Cross, just outside the M25 to the north of the capital, between 2.30 and 3am. They are invariably back at base by mid-day, having typically made 30-35 deliveries.

Reflecting these early hours of operation, Reynolds has also gone to great lengths to ensure its new Econics vehicles are as quiet as possible – their full air suspension makes a positive contribution to noise reduction, while Thermo King promotes its underslung UT-800 fridge as “whisper-quiet” and the operator has specified the vehicle bodies with sound-deadening Marothaan floor coatings.