Cyclists have welcomed the announcement of a new Transport for London (TfL) bus safety programme, aimed at improving safety across the London bus network.
It is hoped the new programme will help achieve the Mayor’s target of halving the number of people killed or seriously injured on the capital’s roads by 2020.
Between April 2007 and March 2015, bus collisions killed 128 people on London’s roads, including 81 pedestrians and six cyclists, according to figures revealed in the Evening Standard last year.
Leon Daniels, TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “The Bus Safety Programme will examine a range of improvements, from vehicle design to bus driver training, from giving more information to the public to provision of support to those affected by serious bus incidents. We will also provide more information about bus safety and the outcomes of investigations into the most serious incidents.”
The ‘world leading’ six-point programme will include:
1. The testing of the latest safety technologies and products on London buses throughout the year so they can be incorporated into new buses due to be delivered from September 2017. A range of new technologies and safety measures are currently being considered. They include collision avoidance systems which use on-board sensors to warn drivers of potential dangers and trigger emergency brakes. Other design innovations include improved wing mirrors and windscreen glazing to limit the impact of collisions.
2. An update of TfL bus contracts to include incentives to encourage a greater focus on safety. A series of workshops will examine how incentives may be used to help reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the bus network.
3. The provision of an Incident Support Service for people who suffer fatal or serious injuries on the transport network. The UK-first Incident Support Service will have its own dedicated customer services team from April 2016 to offer emotional and practical support to victims following an accident and provide a named point of contact at TfL.
4. Bus collision data will be published and made more accessible. Every incident resulting in any form of injury will now be published on the TfL website. From spring 2016, TfL will publish bus collision data with a breakdown of serious collision incidents by road user group and graphs illustrating long-term trends. The new web page will also link to the London Collision Map to highlight where and when bus collisions occur.
5. There will be greater transparency on bus collision investigations with explanations on how fatal and serious injury collisions on the bus network are investigated and the processes that are followed by TfL, the bus operators and the police. TfL will also report annually on the legal outcome of all fatal and serious bus collisions.
6. A new safety training module will be provided to all 24,700 drivers by the end of 2016 raising driver awareness of the risks that exist on the road involving both other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It is hoped that over time the training will encourage drivers to make incremental adjustments to the way they assess risks and that going forward, this will lead to a reduction in the number of road accidents. The training will form part of the City and Guilds qualification that is compulsory for all new drivers. TfL is also looking at piloting pre-qualification testing for driver recruitment from spring 2016.
This new programme demonstrates TfL’s commitment to the safety of all road users and their aim to prioritise safety for the most vulnerable groups, that of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, who make up 80 per cent of all serious and fatal collisions.
We very much hope that bus safety remains a priority not just in London but across the country and that safety technologies such as pedestrian and cyclist detection systems, Intelligent Speed Adaption and Automatic Emergency Braking systems will be included as standard in all new buses entering service from September 2017.
We would also like to see similar programmes being introduced for publicly funded lorry contracts, whether they involve haulage, refuse services or construction projects. At present, heavy goods vehicles, particularly those involved in the construction industry are responsible for a disproportionate number of fatal collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians.
Oliver Jeffcott is a personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
Oliver is a keen cyclist who has written extensively on cycling and road safety for numerous national publications.
Slater and Gordon has secured more than £40 million in compensation for CTC Members who have been injured in cycling accidents since 2002.
For a free consultation or to claim compensation for cycling accident injuries, call our specialist cycling accident solicitors 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.