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Lorry drivers the best road users, cyclists the worst, says haulage firm boss

Director of Devon HGV operator lashes out at cyclists - but his own firm has history of rule-breaking

The director of a Devon-based haulage business claims lorry drivers are “the best users of the road – cyclists are the worst." But in 2001, more than 20 of his firm’s drivers were fined after admitting falsifying tachograph records and ignoring rules on working hours.

Bill Hocking, who runs Barnstaple-based William C Hockin Transport, made his comments about cyclists in an interview with the North Devon Journal.

He told the newspaper: "They need educating. If a 44-tonne lorry is indicating left and a cyclist decides to skip past on the truck's inside, the cyclist is going to be dead.

"There's no use blaming the HGV driver – cyclists need to stay back. If you can't see the driver's mirrors he can't see you.

"A lot of cyclists behave dangerously," he said. "Our drivers tell stories all the time about cyclists behaving like idiots.

"Whenever a cyclist is run over by a lorry, the driver gets blamed, which is wrong,” he insisted.

"HGV drivers are the best users of the road – cyclists are the worst."

However, a series of court cases in 2001 resulted in 22 drivers from William C Hockin pleading guilty to having falsified tacograph records.

A report from Commercial Vehicle in April of that year details how 19 of William C Hockin’s drivers appearing in the dock in 2001, where they were fined a total of £18,780 plus costs.

At the time, the company operated 30 vehicles. Three more of its drivers were fined in July 2001 after admitting similar charges.

The prosecutions resulted from a police raid on the company’s offices following a tip-off, with Tony Ostrin, representing the Vehicle Inspectorate, telling magistrates “there was evidence of fuses being pulled, tachograph clocks being altered and false starting and finishing locations being entered on the centre field.”

Tachographs are used in vehicles including lorries to record information related to driving time, speed and distance to ensure that drivers and their employers adhere to rules related to drivers’ hours and rest breaks, and they can also provide valuable evidence in the event of a collision.

Last September, a judge sentencing a lorry driver to eight and a half years for causing the death by dangerous driving of two cyclists who had just begun a charity ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats said he “had almost certainly fallen asleep” at the wheel.

Prosecutors said that Robert Palmer had not had adequate rest periods and had falsified his tachograph records prior to the crash that killed Toby Wallace, 36 and Andrew McMenigall, 47, in July 2013.

Joao Lopes, the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash that claimed the life of Eilidh Cairns as she rode to work in 2009 was jailed for four years in 2012 for causing the death by dangerous driving of 97-year-old Nora Gutmann as she crossed London’s Marylebone Road the previous year.

The court heard that Lopes had been driving without glasses, in breach of the conditions of his licence, and that the tachograph on his lorry had been tampered with.

Lopes with never charged in connection with Eilidh Cairns’ death, but was found guilty of driving with uncorrected vision, leading to his licence being temporarily revoked.

Eilidh’s sister, Kate Cairns, has campaigned since her death for improved safety measures on lorries to protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users through See Me Save Me, which is co-ordinated by the charity RoadPeace.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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