According to new research, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are five times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than other vehicles.
The study by the Campaign for Better Transport found that HGVs accounted for less than 2% of traffic on minor roads but were involved in more than 7% of the most serious road traffic accidents.
On Britain’s motorways, HGVs accounted for nearly 11% of traffic but were involved in more than 52% of the worst accidents.
After figures showed that HGVs cost the economy the equivalent of £6.5 billion a year in road traffic accidents, pollution and potholes, the Campaign for Better Transport have appealed to the UK Government to do more to reduce the dangers posed by lorries.
The safety of HGVs, especially in regard to cyclists, is currently a key issue for transport in the UK.
In London, HGVs are involved in more than half of all cyclist deaths despite only making up 5% of the capital’s traffic. Between 2008 and 2013, 55% of Fatal Cycling Accidents in London involved HGVs.
Last year, the EU agreed to introduce safer lorry designs four years earlier than lorry manufacturers wanted. Under the new plans, current brick-shaped lorries, which are extremely dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians, will be phased out.
Radical new generation “cyclist friendly” HGVs were unveiled at a London conference into cycling deaths and injuries last week, with the new lorries allowing drivers an unimpeded view around their vehicles including what would normally be their blind spot.
Amongst a host of improved safety measures, bus-style concertina doors have been added on the near side, extra windows have been fitted and existing windows have been extended significantly.
In addition, cabs have been lowered so that drivers are closer to the eye level of cyclists and pedestrians, camera systems and upgraded mirrors are standard and improved “run-under” protection rails are included around the perimeter of the vehicles to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being dragged under the wheels.
The HGVs - which are made by Mercedes-Benz, Dennis Eagle, Volvo, Scania, DAF and MAN, and are on sale now – were designed under the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety Agreement (CLOCS).
We welcome the news that 80 organisations have now signed up to be “CLOCS Champions” including Crossrail. Although Transport for London is encouraging haulage firms to adopt the new vehicles it is not mandating them. Surely this is the next step?
Paul Kitson is Slater and Gordon’s Principal Lawyer for the CTC, the UK’s national cycling charity.
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Slater and Gordon Lawyers have secured more than £40 million in compensation for CTC Members who have been injured in cycling accidents since 2002.
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