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Safety expert calls for compulsory cameras on lorries following cycle deaths

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A road safety expert has called for all lorries to have compulsory side, front and rear CCTV cameras following the 12th death of a cyclist on the roads last week.

Melvyn Hodgetts, who was in charge of safety on Royal Mail’s lorry fleet for more than 20 years, said: “These tragic cycle accidents on London‘s roads illustrate how hazardous our roads have become.

“Despite the best efforts of road designers with initiatives like the Barclays Cycle Superhighway network and early start traffic controls these latest incidents prove that more is still needed.

“One essential improvement would be to push for greater in-cab technology to reduce driver blind spots.

“CCTV has progressed enormously in the last few years and can be a vital addition for drivers and help them to be aware of cyclists and pedestrians when their attention is being competed for by all manner of distractions.

“The latest on-vehicle camera systems not only provide blind spot coverage to give the driver vital vision of moving cyclists around them, but also gather data on driving behaviour, vehicle speed and positioning.

“This data is a valuable tool for employers and can help identify the risks being faced daily by their drivers and can be used to both educate the driver and help develop practical measures to help them. Technology can make all the difference to reduce these tragic accidents.”

Nine of the 12 fatalities have involved lorries and in many cases accidents are as a result of lorry drivers who have blind spots on their vehicle and fail to see nearby cyclists in their wing mirrors.

One firm that installs safety cameras – Smart Witness – has seen huge reductions in accidents for the haulage firms that have installed them.

The Croydon-based company design and fit video systems for HGVs. They include side and back cameras, which give drivers a clear view of any cyclists or other road users, all around the lorry.

The video is relayed to a monitor in the cab so that the driver can clearly see the side, rear and forward facing views around the vehicle.

Smart Witness managing director Simon Marsh said: “The number of tragic deaths can be reduced significantly if lorries, coaches and construction trucks are fitted with safety cameras that clearly show HGV drivers if cyclists or other road users are nearby.

“Long vehicles often have several blind spots and wing mirrors are simply not effective enough for the driver to see what is on his inside or outside, which is especially important if the driver is about to make a turn.”

He added: “We have found that the haulage firms who have installed the Smart Witness video cameras have seen a significant reduction in accidents.

“Our system of cameras fitted around the lorry or coach give the driver a much better view of both the left and right-hand sides of his vehicle and can show if vehicles are directly behind as well.”

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  • Alan Rae - 18/11/2013 14:28

    Drivers of cars, trucks and riders of motorcycles are required by law to demonstrate that they are fit to drive on the public highway by passing the relevant test. What are the legal standards required by authority to allow riders of bicycles to take to the roads?. There may be something to discuss here.

    • Iain Marsh - 13/12/2013 11:18

      @Alan Rae - As a kid, I passed my cycling proficiency test. I still have the badge and certificate to prove it! I don't know what is offered in schools these days to make children more aware when cycling, probably nothing.

  • James Nayler - 19/11/2013 14:00

    The reports so far have only explained that the cyclists were in the drivers blind spots. I have yet to see if it was due to driver error/negligence or the cyclist taking risks while riding. No one wants to have accidents but both parties need to be aware when travelling on the roads. Since the clocks have changed and i am travelling home in the dark i have noticed more cyclist risking their own safety. My best example was a serious cyclist with the correct cycling clothing and a helmet that was almost invisible due to his bike being black, all of his clothes being black and his helmet being black. The only thing letting other road users know he was on the road was a cycle light about the size of a 50p. This was then followed by him cycling through a red light. If any vehicle was crossing that junction correctly they would have been very lucky to spot him. I am sure he would have blamed the other party had anything happened. Please, please can the government recognise this as a problem before the number of deaths increase.

  • Phillip Bailey. (transport manager) - 09/12/2013 12:28

    With respect to the safety officer, he should employ the law to cyclists who think that they have the right of way at all times. This includes cycling on the pavement, through red lights, undertaking when vehicles are turning, going the wrong way, no lights. Do I need to go on.

  • Ben Richards - 13/12/2013 11:33

    It was interesting to read that in the "clampdown" in London following the spate of incidents that of those spoken to and fined by Police in the first three days, 35% were cyclists. That seems an extraordinarily high percentage of those caught and not in line with what the pro-cycling lobby maintain, that cyclists are all good road users and "victims" of poor driving. I note that drivers get points and a fine of £100 or so, cyclists get just a £30 fine. Why can't cyclists that have driving licences (and thus have proved themselves knowledgeable of the rules of the road) get endorsements on their licences? While I'm moaning, how many bikes meet the appropriate standards for use on the roads? They must have a rear and pedal reflectors. I see loads of "fixies" and guerilla MTBs tearing up the roads without and short of other vitals, like brakes or bells. Are the Police impounding these machines? I know if I took them all off my car to save weight, I'd be in for a hard time.

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