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HGVs And Cyclist Safety: What Should This Driver Have Done?

Posted on 10th May, 2017 by Dominic Benabda

The HGV industry has been in the spotlight again in recent weeks, this time in the context of cyclist safety. This is largely due to a video posted by a disgruntled cyclist involving a Sainsbury’s HGV. It’s drawn a vast number of differing opinions, prompting a national discussion about correct driving procedure for HGVs (and even motorists at large).

Why Did The Incident Occur?

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Recorded on the helmet camera of a road cyclist, the footage begins as the cyclist is just joining what is universally considered to be an incredibly narrow cycle lane. As a traffic island comes up on his right, the Sainsbury’s HGV suddenly cruises past with very little room to spare. The cyclist is thoroughly unnerved by the manoeuvre, and his angry reaction is worsened by the fact that the HGV is forced to come to a halt anyway a few moments later due to traffic.

The position of the traffic island means that for a few metres, there is very little room for the lorry to move out and give the cyclist comfortable space. Many of the people watching the video have pointed out that the safest decision would have been for the driver to hang back and wait until there was sufficient space to pass.

However, the reaction from several others (including the initial response from Sainsbury’s) has been to highlight the fact that the HGV driver was in his own lane throughout the video. Therefore, they argue, it’s not the driver that’s at fault, but rather whoever designed the narrow cycle lane.

Who Is In The Right?

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As we’ve mentioned this seems to be a particularly controversial issue, with cyclists and drivers quickly clashing heads. It comes at a time when cyclist safety is becoming an ever more sensitive and high-profile issue in the national consciousness. In bigger urban areas like London, measures are already being taken to attempt to cut down on the high number of cyclist casualties each year.

Another thing to note about the discussion is that there is an undeniably tribal element to parts of it, with some cyclists and drivers automatically taking sides against each other. That means that only a few observers are recognising that actually, both sides do have a point. The driver did not act illegally, and the design of the road is an issue. But at the same time, the cyclist was put in real and immediate danger – however briefly – due to the driver’s judgement.

While the letter of the law is obviously important, the size and deadly potential of HGVs means that drivers need to be particularly aware of the effect their driving can have on other road users. Adhering to the law is the minimum that society expects, but it’s ultimately up to drivers to take responsibility for their actions. Meanwhile, cyclists need to be similarly cautious in the vicinity of HGVs, and should never automatically assume that the driver has seen them – especially when making a manoeuvre such as a left turn.

Cyclist Safety Is A Top Priority

At Vision Techniques, we’re passionate in our belief that all road users should have the necessary means to ensure the safety of both themselves and everyone around them. We aim to do just that with our TurnAware and TurnAlarm technologies. Both are systems designed to help HGV drivers maintain absolute awareness of everything around their vehicle. This in turn helps them avoid accidental collisions with cyclists and pedestrians – while also alerting the latter to the driver’s movements and intentions.

In this way, we aim to improve cyclist safety and make driving easier and safer for everyone. You can view our full vehicle safety product range here, or call us on 08458 058 213 to place an order.

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