A recent report released by Brake, the road safety charity, revealed that too many vehicle fleet operators are failing to take advantage of new technology specifically designed to protect cyclists.
Despite the huge potential to minimise blind spots and grant lorry drivers greater visibility around their vehicles, only one in five HGV operators surveyed had installed rear-facing cameras on all their vehicles, 12% had fitted side sensors, and 8% had started using side-facing cameras.
Road safety campaigners are now urging employers to do more to deliver the business benefits of reduced crashes, casualties, and lower insurance premiums, by installing the latest safety technology available to help protect vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
The report found HGV safety technologies - that are now mandatory under European law for trucks weighing more than 3.5 tonnes - such as under-run guards and wide-angle mirrors, have been installed on almost all vehicles. However, widespread use of other safety technologies such as automatic moving mirrors, rear, front and side sensors, and reversing alarms, have yet to be widely embraced.
Blind spot devices and vehicle safety management equipment like telematics can be of enormous benefit in reducing accidents and preventing deaths and injuries, yet they are only currently present on a small number of vehicle fleets.
The government needs to do more to protect vulnerable road users by implementing further regulations and more comprehensive minimum safety standards as this is the most effective way of ensuring a more widespread adoption of these crucial safety technologies.
Almost 25% of road deaths and serious injuries involve vehicles being driven for work and it is up to employers with transport fleets to improve the safety of their vehicles. One issue Slater and Gordon Lawyers have often blogged about is the prevalence of cycling accidents involving HGVs.
Although HGVs only make up 5% of the UK’s road traffic, they are involved in 23% of cyclist deaths and one in seven pedestrian fatalities. HGV’s turning left at junctions present a particularly dangerous threat to cyclists in built up urban areas and out of the 50-plus fatal cycling accidents since 2010, more than 30 have involved a HGV-related collision.
Last month, a young cyclist tragically died following a collision with a lorry in South London. She became the sixth London cycling fatality so far this year. Tellingly, all six deaths have involved a collision with an HGV.
Vehicle fleet operators whose staff drive for a living have a duty of responsibility both to their own employees and other road users. It is clear that technology can help employers improve safety and exercise that duty and, as such, it is extremely disappointing that so many are failing to take full advantage of the new safety technologies on offer.
Naturally, there is the cost issue to take into account when fitting large vehicle fleets with these kinds of technologies. But it is by far the more sensible option when considering the combined costs of fatal collisions and the subsequent lifetime of problems for both drivers and managers.
While safety devices are not legally required, fleet managers should still consider fitting their vehicles with blind spot-minimising technology and features specifically designed to ensure heavy trucks are as safe as possible and not such a threat to pedestrians and cyclists.
Richard Allbeson is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor specialising in cycling accident claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Newcastle.
For a free consultation about how to claim compensation for a cycling accident injury call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.