Vision Techniques

Don’t turn a blind eye to lorry-cyclist accidents

Although HGVs only make up about 5% of traffic, they are involved in around 50% of cyclist deaths every year as well as many other injuries.

Cyclists are usually scared of them – and for good reason.

A recent campaign called Exchanging Places gave cyclists the chance find out what lorry drivers can see.

Those who participated found that there are a number of blind spots where cyclists are completely invisible.

With modern HGVs having as much acceleration as a car, and cyclists unseen at the front end, it is extremely dangerous to be in front of them.

Charlie Lloyd, of the London Cycling Campaign, said: “By far the most hazardous place for a cyclist is way out on the left of a large lorry, 1.5-3 metres away, outside the area seen in the mirrors or picked up by sensors.

“That is the area that a turning lorry swings into at speed when turning left. To the cyclist the lorry comes out of nowhere, to the driver the cyclist is invisible.”

A proximity sensor fitted to a lorry is very useful to detect cyclists, as is a forward facing camera, but there is only so much an HGV driver can see.

One problem is that, with seven mirrors and the whole front windscreen, the driver’s view has changed by the time you manoeuvre. This makes things extremely difficult.

A team of 450 cyclists who sat in the lorry agreed on the best thing for cyclists to do to avoid accidents. Overtake, don’t overtake or wait behind the lorry, keeping in mind that the lorry could turn.

From a lorry drivers’ point of view, make sure you have safety equipment fitted to maximise awareness.

Fleet operators might consider fitting VT Side Alert™ proximity sensors, which can also include LED lightboards to attract the attention of cyclists.