Truck driver blind spots will continue to kill cyclists

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Automobile, Truck, Belfast

Cyclists are increasingly vulnerable on city streets
Cyclists are increasingly vulnerable on city streets
The Safer Lorry Scheme, which becomes effective in London from September and makes it mandatory for lorries to be fitted with a new mirror system to help reduce the growing number of accidents involving cyclists, has been labelled as a “fiasco” by a supplier of vehicle steering stabilisers.

According to SteerSafe, the new scheme, which bans all lorries over 3.5t from the capital until they are fitted with Class V (side close proximity) and Class V1 (front projection) mirrors and side guards, will still leave blind-spots for drivers.

The scheme also requires these lorries to be fitted with side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision.

Driver blind spots

Extended view mirrors are designed to improve the driver’s field of view and reduce blind spots, said Transport for London (TfL). Lorries are involved in a disproportionate number of cyclist and  pedestrian fatalities said TfL, with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) accounting for nine out of 14 cyclist deaths in 1913 in London alone.

While the idea behind the scheme is admirable, said SteerSafe, as long as there are blind spots for drivers, cyclists will continue to die. What is needed to reduce the incidence of accidents is for drivers to be equipped with an ergonomically optimised means of avoiding collisions with anyone and anything, it claimed.

SteerSafe also warned that drivers were likely to be distracted with having to monitor various instruments, cameras, screens – as well as multiple mirrors – on their trucks as they become overwhelmed by information overload. “There is scant evidence in the Safer Lorry Scheme that driver ergonomics have been considered at all,” ​said SteerSafe.

“The Scheme’s drafting committee is evidently unaware of the latest 360-technology, already on the market for two years, which solves the blindspot problem at a stroke. Mini-cameras mounted at the top four corners of a vehicle’s body display on a cab-mounted monitor a continuous bird’s eye surround view of a wide footprint all-round the vehicle. A split-second glance reveals any hazard instantly.

“No more multiple mirrors, split screen monitors, much reduced information overload and, vitally, no blind spots.”

Safe Urban Driving

Meanwhile, truck drivers will be riding round Belfast on bikes as part of a new scheme aimed at improving safety for all road users.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has joined forces with the walking and cycling charity Sustrans to create Safe Urban Driving – a best practice training programme to help prevent collisions with vulnerable road users in an urban environment. The Safe Urban Driving programme will be launched on Thursday August 6 in Belfast.

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence accredited course has been developed by the FTA and Sustrans in partnership with Cycle Training UK and is funded by the Public Health Agency and Belfast Strategic Partnership.

During the one-day course drivers get on bikes to experience the road from a cyclist’s perspective. The course was piloted at the end of June with 10 Belfast City Council drivers and is now being rolled out further.

“We represent 14,000 members in the UK who operate over 200,000 commercial goods vehicles, which is around half of the UK fleet,” ​said Seamus Leheny, the FTA’s policy manager for Northern Ireland. “Our members take road safety awareness very seriously and are working hard to reduce the fatalities involving lorries on the road. We are pleased to work with Sustrans in developing this training course and are delighted at the uptake to date.”

As part of the course, a leaflet has been produced highlighting safety tips for both drivers and cyclists.

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1 comment

Mirrors

Posted by Vincent Power,

I have for some time wondered why we continue with door mirrors on cars which could more effectively be replaced by miniature cameras displaying inside the cabin. This would deliver the same protection and awareness while reducing the overall vehicle width.

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