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Inflatable 'lorry skirt' rolling out to prevent cyclists being dragged under lorries

An inflatable skirt to prevent cyclists being dragged under lorries is being introduced in London, while a Cambridge firm upgrades its fleet

An inflatable skirt that guards the area between wheels under heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in a bid to protect pedestrians and cyclists is being adopted by a London construction company.

Meanwhile, in Cambridge a building services firm are upgrading their fleet of vehicles with cycle-friendly lorries that offer drivers a 90% increase in visibility.

The DawesGuard inflatable lorry skirt, though, has begun rolling out in London under consttruction firm Keltbray Ltd's fleet of tipper trucks.

DawesGuard inventor, and founder of Dawes Highway, James Dawes, is a former MET traffic officer who was called onto the scene of dozens of incidents involving HGVs and cyclists throughout his 15-year career.

The device itself features both an inflatable barrier that stretches to the ground when inflated, and a shatter-proof plastic panel with a large warning sign alerting nearby cyclists and pedestrians to the danger of being dragged underneath.

DawesGuard close up- image via daweshighway.com website.jpg

The £3,000 DawesGuard device can be activated from the cab via a control panel and has been designed with inner-city use in mind.

The target area is, of course, central London where there have been 5 cyclist deaths in 2016 according to cycling-intelligence.com, three of which came in the month of May alone.

A career of witnessing accidents like those in London in May was what encouraged Mr Dawes to develop DawesGuard. His dream is to prevent the victims - as well as their loved ones, and witnesses - from experiencing the terrible consequences of these incidents.

Dawes's statement to the Evening Standard.

“As a motorcycle policeman I regularly attended accidents between cyclists and large vehicles.

"After realising the most severe injuries were sustained when a person was dragged beneath a vehicle’s wheels I simply had to do everything I could to stop the risk of such harm.

“I will never forget the terrible effect serious accidents have on the witnesses and families of people involved in collisions.

"I gave up my 15-year career in the Met to found Dawes Highway Safety and set about developing a concept that I hoped would one day save the life of somebody’s mum, dad or child.”

The future is looking bright for the DawesGuard as the device has already been adopted by London construction company Keltbray, and was nominated for an innovation prize at the Motor Transport Awards this week.

Keltbray has already begun equipping its tipper truck fleet with the devices, and their head of haulage is hopeful that the device will help reduce the number of road user injuries on the city's streets.

He said: "We trialled the Dawes-Guard and believe it will prevent vulnerable road users getting trapped under the nearside of one of our vehicles.  The retractable mechanism is easy to operate for our drivers."

Meanwhile, another construction company - this time in Cambridge - is updating its fleet of HGVs in a bid to make the roads more cycle-friendly.

Huntingdon company, Mick George, has invested in Mercedes Benz's Econic range of vehicles which, amongst other safety features, offer the driver full-height glass doors and a wider field of view through the windscreen to reduce blind spots and increase the likelihood of seeing nearby cyclists.

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Construction firm Tarmac's Mercedes Benz Econic lorry

Speaking to Cambridge News, the firm's transport manager Joe Gossage, said that safety was "of utmost importance" to the company. 

“The safety of our staff, communities, clients, contractors and the people we work alongside is of utmost importance at Mick George," Gossage said.

“Our new range of city safety vehicles complement our existing fleet of vehicles and allows us to be a lot more targeted and efficient in our approach to safety for specific areas."

The London Cycling Campaign's (LCC) Tom Bogdanowicz told road.cc: "LCC looks forward to the full report on initial testing of the Dawes protective device by Keltbray. While the prime area of collisions between cyclists and lorries is just in front of and to the front left side of the lorry protection from a side impact can be helpful and the Dawes skirt seeks to provide additional protection in this area.

"What LCC would like to see is fewer collisions between lorries and cyclists, in the first place, which is why we are campaigning to make vehicles with much better direct vision and fewer blind spots, like the Mercedes Econic and Dennis Eagle Elite, to become the London norm."

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