Freight Transport Association says responsibility for cyclist safety around HGVs shouldn't rest solely with lorry operators

Responded to TRL report by saying 'all road users need to share roads safely'

by Sarah Barth   February 10, 2013  

HGV skip lorry cordoned off at the scene of a cyclist s death.jpg

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has responded to a Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) report recommending safety considerations in the design and operation of construction vehicles by saying "it once again reinforces the need for all road users to work together and share roads safely."

The TRL 'Construction logistics and cycling safety' report outlined 12 recommendations, including that road collisions connected to building sites should be reported as if they were workplace accidents, and that contractors set out safe delivery routes which avoid narrow roads, risky junctions and schools.

It also covered specific issues within the construction industry, including very tight deadlines for drivers and recommended that 'a wider review of the blind spots in different construction vehicle types should be conducted;' stating that "a comprehensive review of vehicles used in the construction industry would greatly improve understanding of the challenges faced by drivers in relation to observing cyclists on the road".

'Sweeping conclusions'

The FTA is a member of the TfL Technical Advisory Group, which took part in the research for the TRL's report, and in 2011 worked alongside TfL, the London Cycling Campaign, IAM and the Metropolitan Police to draw up the FTA Cycling Code.

But Karen Dee, FTA Director of Policy appeared to dismiss many of the findings of the TRL report.

She told Materials Handling World Magazine: "This report analyses some important factors and will make a useful contribution to the debate. However, it makes a number of sweeping conclusions based on assumptions and we would question the practicality and appropriateness of some of the recommendations.

"It must be recognised that this report looks only at a small part of what is a complex situation. Conclusions about what these findings mean, and what actions should be taken, cannot be drawn in isolation of the wider picture. We expect the report's findings to be discussed with stakeholders before any action is taken by TfL to initiate changes to legislation. FTA will continue to engage with TfL and Government but believes that all road users have a role to play in order to truly improve road safety."

Lorries 'pose a disproportionate risk'

The London Cycling Campaign and others have regularly highlighted that lorries in general pose a disproportionate risk to cyclists – HGVs account for just 5 per cent of the city’s traffic, but half of all fatalities of bike riders.

However, the TRL report, commissioned by Transport for London (TfL), shows that it is construction lorries in particular that present by far the biggest danger, involved in more than a third of all deaths of cyclists in London in 2010 and 2011.

In the latter year, in seven of the nine cyclist fatalities involving a lorry, it was specifically a construction industry vehicle that was involved.

According to the TRL, other main findings of the study include “that road risk tends to be viewed as less important than general health and safety risk in the construction industry, and that clients and principal contractors on construction projects tend not to take responsibility for road risk in the same way that they do for general health and safety risk.”

The report found that paying contractors per load, as still often happens in the industry, was not a particularly significant factor in the likelihood of a lorry being involved in a collision with a cyclist.

That practice has regularly been singled out by campaigners as one that leads to increased risk due to drivers seeking to get jobs done as quickly as possible so they can move onto the next one.

However, the TRL said that there was “no specific evidence was found that that paying drivers in this manner changes the amount of work drivers attempt to do, or the time in which they attempt to complete the work.”

'Construction firms should do more'

The report – you can download the full version here or a summary here, although in either case, registration is required – made 12 recommendations under the following headings:

    1: HSE [the Health & Safety Executive] should extend the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) to include on-road collisions

    2: Adherence to a nationally recognised standard on work- related road safety (such as the ISO39001 standard on road traffic safety management) should be promoted

    3: HSE should include off-site safety in the Construction Phase Plan (mandatory under the CDM [Construction Design & Management] regulations)

    4: Existing channels should be utilised more effectively to raise awareness of road risk within the construction industry

    5: CLP [Construction Logistic Plan] guidance should be updated by TfL and its use promoted throughout London

    6: Vehicle manufacturers should work to improve vehicle and mirror design

    7: A wider review of the blind spots in different construction vehicle types should be conducted

    8: Principal contractors and clients should use more realistic delivery time slots

    9: CLPs must include the definition of safer routes to construction sites

    10: Further research should be conducted to understand the effects of pay per load contracts

    11: The vehicle type ‘construction vehicle’ should be included in Stats19

    12: Recommendations 1 to 11 need to be addressed by stakeholders from across the industry, working with relevant regulatory bodies when necessary.

Meanwhile, LCC has revealed that 13 of London’s 33 councils have now undertaken to provide cyclist awareness training to their lorry drivers, compared to just one 12 months ago.

LCC is urging cyclists in the capital to ensure their local councils adhere to the provisions of its Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling pledge.

23 user comments

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What's with the Daily Mail-esque headline? The response may not be good but it certainly doesn't appear to be as bad as your headline suggests. Where does she say it is "up to cyclists not to get run over"?

I find such emotive interpretations and headlines do not help the cycling debate and only serve to increase the "us vs them" mentality.

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posted by sm [343 posts]
10th February 2013 - 10:11

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It's up to lorry drivers not to run over other road users

posted by northstar [1100 posts]
10th February 2013 - 10:11

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sm wrote:
What's with the Daily Mail-esque headline? The response may not be good but it certainly doesn't appear to be as bad as your headline suggests. Where does she say it is "up to cyclists not to get run over"?

I find such emotive interpretations and headlines do not help the cycling debate and only serve to increase the "us vs them" mentality.

Well said. What's wrong with cyclists also taking care - not riding up the inside of traffic about to set off from lights, for example?

And I'm a life-long cyclist who commutes.

Ticktock

posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
10th February 2013 - 10:55

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@Road.cc - Please could you highlight where the response says " It's up to cyclists not to get run over by construction lorries"? Thinking

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posted by Angelfishsolo [105 posts]
10th February 2013 - 11:02

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sm wrote:
What's with the Daily Mail-esque headline? The response may not be good but it certainly doesn't appear to be as bad as your headline suggests. Where does she say it is "up to cyclists not to get run over"?

I find such emotive interpretations and headlines do not help the cycling debate and only serve to increase the "us vs them" mentality.

Road CC does frequently appear to push a "Them" V "US" agenda, with headlines like this antagonising the issue. We have to be naive to believe that cyclists are perfect and have no room for improvement.

I work in health and safety, mainly with groundwork companies and as a banksman trainer, I am well aware of blindspots of HGVs and how the slightest turn of the wheel can change the views of the driver. I feel that "HGV awareness for cyclists" would be as beneficial as "cyclist awareness for drivers".

We all need to work together as stated, it cannot be a one sided effort.

Bianchi on the road.
NMD in the water.

posted by rowes [51 posts]
10th February 2013 - 11:18

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Why would you pay per load if it has no effect?

onward ever onward

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posted by bikecellar [224 posts]
10th February 2013 - 11:51

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You know who’s to blame for all these lorries don’t you? Good ol Dr Beaching shutting down all those old railway lines seen to be not profitable and forcing freight on to the roads and in doing so increasing the size of lorries over the years to cope with the extra volume.

posted by sodit [67 posts]
10th February 2013 - 12:01

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As a cyclist, motorcyclist and car driver (I know spawn of the devil) I get fed up with many cyclists thinking and saying its up to everyone else to look cyclists safety on the road! Reduce speed limits, ban cars, etc. etc. sorry but it gets a bit yawn in the end.

Well folks but being on the roads is like working in industry or any other job. SAFETY begins with YOU and its up to YOU to be as SAFE as you can and not expect every one else to look after YOU, because they wont! Most road users do not appreciate the difficulties of other on the road. Not just cyclists either, but also the difficulties that large vehicle drivers have as well, like all round vision etc. Having said that all road users need to do there best around other users but some cyclists and motor cyclists seem to think they are indestructible sorry folks 100kg of bike and rider versus 1 tonne family car in any collision who’s going to come off worse.

Yes I know its your right of way but in the end if the driver of the vehicle ain’t seen you he ain’t going to stop. As we all know OUCH or DEAD can be the result

In essence what I am saying is we all could do better in being safe on the road, more education not just condemnation that’s what needed.

People find what I have typed strange but that’s the way I see it, there seems to be an attitude in the UK of thinking, everyone else is responsible for me and my actions, but not me!

My sister in law is being charged for pulling out in front of a cyclist usually I would be the first to tell her that she was something impolite, but when it turns out that cyclist had no lights, dark clothes and only a rear reflector at 21:00 on a bad winters night well that does go some way in mitigation.
But she still should have seen him. Look and Look and Look again.

REMEMBER THAT HOWEVER STUPID AN ACTION IS, SOME BODY WILL DO IT! OR AT LEAST TRY TO.

I know many people will not understand my attitude but I think it comes from being older and not seeing the world through rose coloured spectacles.

Rant over.

Safe road use, long life and health

posted by sodit [67 posts]
10th February 2013 - 12:22

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Well said sodit, I am sick to death of cyclists complaining about cars/vans/lorry's almost everybody else, how about the horse rider who nearly took me out yesterday !!!

LOOK AFTER YOURSELF... THINK EVERYBODY IS OUT TO KILL YOU, it will be safer.

Use your eyes, if there is a left hand junction coming up, do not undertake the vehicle, they won't look, they won't indicate and that 1 in 1,000 chance that they turn left can be the difference between life and death.

Now don't get me wrong, there are still idiot drivers out who will still try to kill you even though you have done everything right and we need to keep fighting to improve driver's awareness and up their observation and skill, but as cyclists, we also need to do the same, beware of the danger and rider always thinking the driver is an idiot and out to kill us, extreme yes, but it works.

posted by mikeprytherch [217 posts]
10th February 2013 - 13:25

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Where does she say it is "up to cyclists not to get run over"?
Please could you highlight where the response says " It's up to cyclists not to get run over by construction lorries"?

erm...you've added the quotation marks, not Road.cc!

posted by andyp [860 posts]
10th February 2013 - 13:57

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disgraceful comment on cyclists in Honest John motoring column of Satureday's Daily Telegraph; main problem for me as a cyclist is cars/lorries overtaking and them pulling over because they have misjudged my speed (rarely more than 20mph) and encounter traffic coming the other way. Then I am in the gutter with potholes, sunken drains, etc.

New Forester

posted by Forester [86 posts]
10th February 2013 - 14:07

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Sorry rowes but we do NOT push a 'them' and 'us' agenda here on roadcc and never have. We try to present the facts of a story and it's context in as objective an neutral a way as possible. The original headline on this story didn't match up to those criteria and was changed to something that reflects the content of what the FTA representative actually said.

I totally agree that HGV awareness training for cyclists would be a good thing, but the fact remains that HGVs, and construction lorries in particular, account for a disproportionate number of cyclists killed and seriously injured on urban roads - not just in London, but in other big cities too, 10 cyclists were killed by HGVs in Manchester in 2011.

Yes, as the FTA say everyone must take responsibility for their safety but the greatest share of that responsibility must fall on the operators and drivers of those lorries because they are the ones operating a particularly lethal type of vehicle on to the roads.

In all the reports of lethal and serious injuries inflicted on cyclists by lorries over the last few years in London we've seen poor road design, driver inattention, or carelessness cited as the major contributory factor, but I can honestly remember no case where risky or illegal behaviour by the cyclist has been cited as the main cause of the collision.

A significant number of those killed or seriously injured by HGVs in recent years have been female cyclists who were either doing the right thing when turning at a junction or thought they were doing the right thing as directed by the road markings. I can remember no reports on any of those deaths in recent years involving cyclists and HGVs that suggest that the cyclist was doing anything that might be called risky or illegal behaviour - if you remember, Boris Johnson recently apologised for making that suggestion.

There is a problem with the way construction traffic operates in big cities by and large cyclists are the victims of that problem and not the cause. We don't know what exactly the FTA representative meant by her comments whether she was stating a simple truism or was signalling that the organistion would be pushing back against what might add up to significant investment in driver training, and retro-fitted safety equipment, as well as potential changes in working practises. Our original headline shouldn't have ascribed any extra meaning to her remarks, but equally it is worth pointing out that the horrendous cost of the current situation are not being borne by the FTA or its members.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4135 posts]
10th February 2013 - 14:07

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Yes andyp, I was quoting the original headline of road.cc who were clearly saying just that (hence my quote marks). Grammatically, I would have needed to have added two sets of quotation marks in my comment to make your comment correct.

Anyhow, Road.cc have now thankfully changed the headline.

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

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posted by sm [343 posts]
10th February 2013 - 14:09

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'Yes andyp, I was quoting the original headline of road.cc who were clearly saying just that (hence my quote marks). Grammatically, I would have needed to have added two sets of quotation marks in my comment to make your comment correct.'

Thanks for clarifying your understanding of the working of quote marks. As such, you will, I'm sure, understand that at no time did Road.cc say that the response used those exact words.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
10th February 2013 - 14:28

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Sigh. Did you see the original headline?

Freight Transport Association: It's up to cyclists not to get run over by construction lorries.

I rest my case.

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

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posted by sm [343 posts]
10th February 2013 - 14:58

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I suspect what she's getting at is cyclists shouldn't cut up the inside of large vehicles. She's right but the report is talking about construction traffic specifically and it does disproportionately kill more cyclists than other large vehicles.

There's no doubt cyclists could do more to improve their own safety, but there's nothing at all that cyclists do that explains why construction traffic is more lethal than lorries, buses, coaches etc.

Life is all about politics though, she's got to be seen to push back against anything that would cost the industry more money otherwise she wouldn't be doing her job properly.

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posted by CraigS [135 posts]
10th February 2013 - 15:50

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I haven't bothered to read all the comments because I can guess what they say,

The article is right though, Its not SOLELY upto lorry drivers to protect cyclists. If you put yourself in a blind spot or try to nip past a lorry without knowing the road and put yourself in a dangerous position, then on YOUR head be it

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posted by Gkam84 [8806 posts]
10th February 2013 - 16:31

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Most of them say what you're saying GKAM, but the point is if you drive a lorry - and I have driven a lorry, I also spent a sizeable chunk of my younger years in the cab of a very heavy HGV driving around the streets of London - then you'd better make damn sure you know what's in your blindspot especially before you pull away from a junction and especially when the roads are full of vulnerable road users. If you don't you're gong to kill someone. End of.

Also let's all try and get our facts straight before spouting off about cyclists being killed because they ran up the inside of lorries. I think I've read the reports on pretty much all of the deaths of cyclists killed by lorries in London over the past few years and in other parts of the country - and certainly the ones killed by construction lorries on London's roads. Most of those deaths are at junctions and involve cyclists turning both left and right, or positioned ahead of the lorry with the intention of going straight on. Those killed at left turns had in some cases filtered up through slow or stationery traffic to the front of the queue and then been killed because they were in the lorry's front blindspot and the driver pulled away quickly. You really don't need to be a genius in central London to know that just cos you can't see one there could easily be a cyclist in the fairly sizeable blindspot at the front of a big lorry.

I've also seen the immediate aftermath of what happens when a cyclist does run up the inside of a left turning tipper lorry - way back in the 80s a courier was crushed right outside my front door. It wasn't the driver's fault the courier was by all accounts moving fast and probably thought he could jump the apex of the turn - he couldn't and went under the wheels. That sort of incident though is rare, again I can only go by the reports I've read but most of the victims of these incidents are not courting risk at all, quite the reverse - something I would expect the FTA's representative to know.

The best advice for cyclists is always not to put yourself in a dangerous position in relation to lorries, but there's little you can do if one pulls up alongside you or immediately behind you at a junction. It's also got to be said that avoiding lorries all together is not really an option if you have to ride on urban main roads.

A couple of points on lorry blind spots, it's quite easy to over-take other road users particularly relatively slow moving, vulnerable ones and for them to disappear in to your blindspot. As a driver it's your responsibility see them in the first place and then assume that they are still there and act accordingly so that you don't pass so close that you either hit them or, in the case of a cyclist cause them to lose control and go under your wheels.

The other thing worth remembering is that in many lorry cabs the height of the driver is going to be a big factor in the size of the blindspot, it'll be smaller for a tall driver and larger for a small driver. So you might think you're not in the blindspot, but if the driver is a little bloke you might well be. As a vulnerable road user the person you really don't want to meet is a short, tired/stressed/aggressive lorry driver in a hurry.

Finally from my vantage point on a bike being passed by lots of big lorries on my daily commute I think it's fair to say that far too many HGV drivers are far too complacent about their driving skills particularly when it comes to passing cyclists at a safe distance.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4135 posts]
10th February 2013 - 17:54

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tony_farrelly wrote:
Most of those deaths are at junctions and involve cyclists turning both left and right, or positioned ahead of the lorry with the intention of going straight on. Those killed at left turns had in some cases filtered up through slow or stationery traffic to the front of the queue and then been killed because they were in the lorry's front blindspot and the driver pulled away quickly. You really don't need to be a genius in central London to know that just cos you can't see one there could easily be a cyclist in the fairly sizeable blindspot at the front of a big lorry.

I just try to avoid anything big like a plague at lights/junctions and stay behind. I'm empathizing with a lorry driver here. Blind spots are always there whether you wait before setting off or not and there can be cyclists behind and in front. Censors/awareness courses sure, but I think cyclists should treat sides or fronts of lorries like herbivores treat anything related to big carnivores.

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posted by koko56 [319 posts]
10th February 2013 - 21:35

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sm wrote:
Sigh. Did you see the original headline?

Freight Transport Association: It's up to cyclists not to get run over by construction lorries.

I rest my case.

+1 Another "lobby group" that appear to be putting any blame elsewhere.

posted by northstar [1100 posts]
11th February 2013 - 10:25

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road collisions connected to building sites should be reported as if they were workplace accident

I think this would make a big difference. At the moment the incentive is there for lorries to take risks as the penalty for killing someone (points on licence and a small fine) is outweighed by the benefits of squeezing another load in. The penalty is also given to the individual driver, not the company.

Health & Safety is a powerful force in industry. A quick search for HSE cases shows that fines in the range of £100,000 are handed out for workplace accidents involving lorries*. Companies sit up and pay attention to this, unlike the justice system, the HSE has teeth.

* http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2011/coi-e-3211.htm

Lots of people are commenting about how safety starts with oneself. I couldn't agree more, but other than getting the train to work there is a limit to what I can do. Sure I can (and do) cycle safely around HGVs in urban areas but there's nothing I can do about the gravel lorries coming from Hadleys** at over 50mph, overtakng me round corners on the narrow country roads I frequent.

** http://www.hadleys.co.uk/

posted by qwerky [134 posts]
11th February 2013 - 10:54

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northstar wrote:
It's up to lorry drivers not to run over other road users

That's for sure!

But, lets also remember that HGV and PSV Drivers are at some point; Other Road Users, and possibly cyclists.

No such thing as them and us. All motorists need educating in becoming aware of other road users. There must be action to cause a reaction in the awareness of safer road use for everyone.

We need to plant it in the minds of all road users.

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
11th February 2013 - 11:08

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If HSAW had applied to some of the cases I've seen from London the managements would be in the dock along with the drivers.

HSAW applies a duty of care - or to put it in terms of a campaign for road users, which Mark Cavendish correctly described but is frequently misreported on - presumed liability. You have equipment in use which can damage or harm, so you must ensure that it has all safety systems working and is operated by a proficient operator.

Eilidh Cairns and Nora Gutman killed by same driver, with a record of minor crashes due to driving with defective eyesight, for which ha had been sacked by sime employers yet still taken on by others.

Catriona Patel Killed by a driver whose employer failed to have any checks on drivers starting work drunk, or on their employees previous driving history (over 20 bans and otehr penalties for driving illegally)

Kingsland Road - truck in service with missing/broken nearside mirrors, turned left on cyclist - no come-back on operator for faulty mirrors.

Same truck with small sub contractor - killed 2 puts another in wheelchair, twice with same driver and no one challenges operator.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
11th February 2013 - 12:46

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