It isn't only cyclists who don't hear things

I was at the Inquest in Poplar on 9th April, and a few very disturbing 'blind spots' in the investigation struck me.

One of them was how a truck which the Police investigators assessed as travelling at 13 mph (from both GPS beacon and Tachograph records) managed to run into the rear wheel of a cyclist (significantly with the front - not side of the truck), who if she was riding normally would have probably been travelling a bit faster than this.

The truck, which had taken 40 metres to accelerate from being stationary, then took 49 metres before the driver brought it to a stand, due I suspect to the immediate reaction of the main witness available, who saw the unfolding event, after hearing the initial impact, and standing ahead of the truck, flagged the driver to stop. 

The driver did say that he noticed the unusual noises, but possibly not at the first moment of impact.

No evidence was presented on whether the driver's cab window was open, or any radio or music was playing in the cab, or any quantitative assessment of the traffic noise generated from the nearby A12 which at a guess from a 2001 noise plot showing the M11 Link would make the A12 a similar 75-80dB but the hard and flat concrete sided trench could amplify this to levels which for a factory would require continuous hearing protection, levels of noise which can easily drown out other important sounds.

The truck driver who killed Katherine Giles also had to be flagged down, unaware of the commotion outside and noise of the crash, and I'm aware of a number of other cases where 'driver didn't hear' is a factor.

If road crashes were investigated with the diligence applied to rail and air crashes, the recurrring factor of truck drivers not hearing the crushing of a bike, and shouts or screams outside, would surely flag up the need to pay some close attention to what can be heard in the cab, and popssibly 'sealing' the cab of any vehicle involved in a collision to preserve the state of droplight windows, and ICE systems.

I cannot normally drive a car with the driver's window fully closed. It provides so much information through the road noise (tyre noise on sheet ice almost disappears) and the noise of vehicles in your blind spot which you can hear but cannot see. I notice that many professional drivers also have this habit.  

Any thoughts on this one? 

The Coroner basing her conclusions on the Police assertion that there was no (STATIONARY) traffic preventing the cyclist from getting clear of the truck opted to blame the victim, but there are some serious aspects of this which don't quite stack up, in particular how she got from behind and alongside to a position in front of the truck, and this with the proximity sensor, and left turn annunciator working perfectly when tested after the crash, and if she was cycling at a speed sufficient to do this, how the truck doing 13mph managed to run into the back of her bike.  

I've noted that MOVING traffic actually stops the cyclists from starting off, typically by 3 seconds, by which time the lights have changed for the motor traffic to surge forwards and....  Add in a left turning vehicle in the advance start box, and this arrangment is even more dangerous than the one it replaced.

I've spotted some useful You Tube postings that suggest a regular 3 second delay from red light running traffic, and some useful clips that show the path taken by a cyclist who has to veer left or slow to avoid being cut up by a left turning vehicle, and one where a vehicle in the advance stop box delays the cyclists starting off, and a car flies past before the cyclists fully clear the stop line. I'm sure Venera did not run the red light, was blocked by traffic from setting off, and a couple of other details that these videos confirm as possible. If anyone has examples of the 3 issues noted please highlighht the URL. A clear example is in SW19's bus running the red lights, where the green light for cyclists is clearly visible through the windows of the bus.

I also fear that we will unfortunately see more deaths and serious injuries at Bow Roundabout in the near future, whilst this system with the hazard of almost 100% of the motor traffic driving directly through the path taken by all the cyclists using CS2 continues with a total reliance on all users complying with a complex arrangement of traffic signals.  

This post was edited by Dave H at 1:33pm 14 June 2014.


 Hgv's should not be allowed on the road with such poor visibility.  Blind spots should be minimized by cutting windows in most of the front and nearside of the cab, including the door, now. Construction hgv's should not have an exemption from safety aids required on other hgv's. All could have Audio Vents that open automatically when the engine runs, so drivers can hear other road users around them.(e.g. side windows open)

The much vaunted EU change in regs, allows a longer cab, but does not come into force until 2022, and doesn't appear to make the other touted safety improvements mandatory!

'Euractiv' says "Truck manufacturers have asked for a moratorium on new body designs until at least 2025". 

Plus, no existing truck has to be modified to meet the new regs for its life, so it's all too little, too late, as usual.

Finally, *Generally and hypothetically speaking* A possible left-hook factor might be if a hgv driver were not to slow down sufficiently for a corner to avoid burning the extra litre of diesel it would take to regain speed after it.

Possibly you shouldn't be driving a car if you feel you need the window down to hear stuff. You're not gonna hear a bike.

I'm half-deaf, my father's deaf and we both have never had a problem - on bikes or cars. There is some statistic somewhere that deaf drivers are safer because they are more observant. Hearing drivers should be more observant. The only issue, actually, as a deaf driver, is when emergency vehicles have their blue lights on but are just driving normally (this happens much more in Latino countries). 

I absolutely rely on my half-hearing when I'm on a bike but not at all when I'm in a car. On a bike I listen for stuff coming up behind me so that I have more observation of the riskier stuff that's happening in front of me. On risky moves, hearing will tell me how close a vehicle is behind or to the side while I can keep looking at other vehicles in front. In a car, I shouldn't be in such a situation.

If I had no hearing at all (or were wearing headphones) I wouldn't undergo risky moves so much and cycle much slower because I have to look behind the whole time and thus might miss something in front of me.

This post was edited by andyeverywhere at 1:38pm 14 June 2014.

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