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Campaign calls for HGV 'blind spot' improvements

Monday 14th February 2011

A delegation led by the bereaved family of a cyclist is travelling to Strasbourg to call for improved European legislation to tackle cyclist deaths and injuries involving HGVs.

The delegation is part of a campaign, backed by Team GB cyclist Rebecca Romero and Brake, the road safety charity, which aims to raise awareness of the dangers posed by truck blind spots to cyclists and pedestrians.

Around 400 people, mostly cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists, are killed each year across Europe as a result of HGV blind spots, according to Brake.

A European Parliament written declaration on HGV safety, tabled by Fiona Hall MEP, is currently under consideration, proposing that new trucks should be fitted with the latest blind spot equipment. MEPs have until 17 February to sign the declaration.

As well as supporting the campaign for improved legislation, Brake is working to advise fleet operators on improving the safety of their vehicles through its Fleet Safety Forum. The charity is appealing to HGV operators to fit the latest blind spot devices to all their vehicles, to minimise the dangers they pose.

Rebecca Romero, Olympic gold-medal winning Team GB cyclist, says: “It’s tragic so many cyclists lose their lives each year by being hit by commercial vehicles, often as a result of the driver failing to see them – yet many of these tragedies could be prevented by devices fitted to vehicles to reduce blind spots.”

Fiona Hall MEP, who tabled the European written declaration, says: “Sensors and cameras should be compulsory on all lorries so that drivers are always aware when someone is close to their vehicle. This is everyday technology that is used to help car drivers with parking – on lorries it will save lives.”

For more information contact Angelika Schneider at Fiona Hall’s office on +32 2 28 41019 / 07950 184 194.

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I have ridden a bicycle since I was 7; a motorcycle since I was 20 and passed a Class-One HGV driving test (an articulated lorry)in my late forties. Please may I assume I have seen this issue from all angles? The lorry I drove on my test had seven mirrors and the examiner watched you to see if you used them all. As a child cyclist, I was told by an adult never to go up the inside of a lorry, van or bus. As a motorcyclist, I was taught never to get caught alongside an artic, especially at roundabouts. As a lorry driver, my instructor told me to watch those mirrors like a hawk, particularly when turning. If cyclists, motorcyclists and lorry drivers are performing as they were taught, this problem would be almost none existent. If they don't, what manner of legislation would be affective? As Derek in St Albans says, road safety starts with the individual taking responsibility to behave on the road legally and correctly. However, when he/she does it illegally or incorrectly they blame someone else for the consequences. I would surmise that most, if not all, cyclist-versus-HGV accidents are due to human error for which legislation is available making delegations to Strasbourg unnecessary.
Roy Buchanan, Sutton

If road safety is to be improved in this area, then it is vital that all road users are aware of blind spots. If a vehicle operator is the only one responsible for the road safety of all others movements, it takes away responsibility from other road users, at the same time loading the vehicle operator with more items to be aware of such as extra mirrors to be viewed, miniature screens to be looked at from side and rear cameras, and audible warning devices when in close proximity with other road users. These may be fatal distractions to a driver when negotiating junctions where other traffic and signals are to be viewed and accounted for. All too often I see cyclists attempting to squeeze through impossible gaps in an attempt to get ahead of a stationary or slow moving vehicle. Pedestrians crossing against a red man when traffic is slow and held up in congestion, and relying on 'hope' to get across without being hit - head down and 'blinkers' on. Are others who have already shown sufficient competence to gain a licence to drive now to be expected to compensate for the errors made by those who have no such licence, and who expect compensation in the event? The Highway Code is written for ALL road users. There are sections for cyclists and pedestrians too. Some refuse to read, let alone digest. Others are bereft of commonsense, and have never been taught any.

Any campaign needs to be aimed at ALL road users - YOU are responsible for YOUR road safety. In doing so the roads are made safer for ALL.

Perhaps If I sound like a Parrot at times, it is because this website 'Parrots' the same articles, and no-one is really taking any notice at all. MEP's, MP's, Westminster or Brussells, none so deaf as those who refuse to hear. Frustrate and obfuscate - such is the intent of our present administration.
Derek Reynolds, St Albans