Lorries pose the greatest danger to cyclists and pedestrians on our streets: they are the largest vehicles on our roads and they have the worst vision from the driver’s seat. London’s next Mayor must therefore reduce road danger to all of us by taking all possible steps to make ‘direct vision’ lorries, with minimal ‘blind spots’ the standard HGV type used in London.
“There are numerous blind spots,” HGV driver Edwin Humphries admitted to the inquest of cyclist Abdelkhalak Lahyani in 2015. “Unless it’s big you ain’t going to see it.” Humphries’ left-turning lorry had killed Lahayani at Elephant & Castle two years before. Lorries with restricted vision are not just a danger to cyclists; they are a danger to pedestrians, to motorcyclists and to other drivers. There are even dangers to the drivers of those lorries, who may not spot road markings or hazards directly in front of them.
When asked about priorities to reduce lorry danger, construction industry representatives recently said the overwhelming first priority was the re-design of the vehicles themselves. Clearly the industry itself now wants direct vision vehicles. Cemex, one of the pioneers of using direct vision in construction vehicles, highlight the benefits of direct vision lorries in this video.
What must the next Mayor do?
We want London’s next Mayor to reduce road danger to all of us by taking all possible steps to make direct vision lorries the standard HGV type in London:
- Transport for London and the Greater London Authority must specify direct vision lorries for all their future contracts. This will encourage property developers and their contractors to order such vehicles.
- The Mayor must announce an intention to include direct vision lorries as a requirement of the London Safer Lorry Scheme (which currently requires vehicles to have specific mirrors and sideguards). This will encourage lorry operators who want to do business in London to take steps to buy direct vision vehicles for use in the capital.
- The Mayor must ensure that TfL and London boroughs make full use of planning agreements to ensure direct vision lorries are used at all new property developments.
Why is this important?
Lorries are involved in half the deaths of cyclists on London roads even though they account for less than 5% of vehicle mileage. In 2015 the proportion was even higher: 7 out of 9 cyclist fatalities in involved a lorry. The explanation, all too often, is that the driver was unable to see the cyclists because of the restricted vision from most lorries.
It is not only unfair on vulnerable road users for the largest, and most dangerous, vehicles to have poor vision; it is unfair on the drivers of those vehicles who have the constant stress of dealing with multiple ‘blind spots.’
The solution to restricted vision is simple: ‘direct vision’ lorries with ‘low-entry’ cabs and far greater window areas which eliminate most of the blind spots on conventional high cab lorries. Such lorry cabs are now available not only for refuse vehicles, where they have been common for a decade, but also for most other uses, notably, tipper lorries which are significantly over-represented in cyclists’ deaths.
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