Road safety campaigners have been lobbying for safer roads for decades. Countless lives have been saved as a result, but with the growing number of vehicles on the roads, sadly fatalities are still commonplace. Here, Emily Hardy, from road safety technology company Brigade Electronics UK, explains how the company is working with the charity RoadPeace to proactively promote the prevention of HGV collisions.
At least ten people are seriously injured, and two people are killed every week, in traffic collisions on London’s roads alone. Traffic fatalities and serious injuries are the worst outcome imaginable for those operating commercial vehicles, but in the event the unthinkable happens, where do bereaved families turn to?
The charity RoadPeace, which was founded in 1992 by Brigitte Chaudhry MBE after her 26-year-old son was killed by a van driver, is working to improve road safety and prevent HGV collisions. Through its current Lorry Danger Campaign, it is encouraging all construction companies to become champions of the scheme CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Community Safety). Developed by Transport for London (TfL) CLOCS aims to improve the safety standards of construction vehicles on public roads and prevent the trauma of fatal collisions for the families, drivers and witnesses involved.
No HGV driver wants to be involved in a collision which seriously kills or injures someone and can have serious consequences on their own mental and physical health. Schemes like CLOCS promote safer vehicles, protecting drivers and other road users. This includes ensuring drivers have better visibility and manoeuvrability through the provision of vehicle safety systems.
Research on injuries and deaths caused by HGVs has indicated that there is a high number of construction vehicles involved in collisions with vulnerable road users. Between 2013 and 2015, 477 people were killed or seriously injured by an HGV – 40% of these were pedestrians, 35% motorcyclists and 25% cyclists. It’s believed that approximately 40 of these deaths involved construction vehicles.
Brigade Electronics is one of RoadPeace’s corporate sponsors and key supporters. The company, founded by Chris Hanson-Abbott MBE, introduced the first reversing alarm to the UK in 1976. It has spent many years tackling the issue of blind spots – one of the main causes of HGV collisions. This year it has donated £5,000 to the charity to help victims of traffic collisions.
A recent victory for the charity was the passing of the Transport for London’s Direct Vision Standard (DVS) - which forms part of the new safety permit for all HGVs over 12 tonnes entering London and will require all HGVs to be rated on how much a driver can see directly from their cab.
The charity and its supporters, including Brigade, are now campaigning for the DVS legislation to be made a legal requirement in the EU.
RoadPeace believes that injury and death prevention rely on comprehensive data research, better analysis and better design of evidence based countermeasures. Coroners are able to make recommendations that could prevent future incidents happening, but they may not be aware of what improvement measures are available to operators. RoadPeace wants to see trained collision investigators with national accreditations who can make fully informed proposals.
Nick Simmons, CEO at RoadPeace, explains:
“Through discussions with helpline callers and our members, the treatment of victims is still a real cause for concern. There continues to be a distinct lack of recognition of road traffic victims as victims of crime.
“For example, no statistics are collected on the number of people reported killed or injured by law breaking drivers and, as such, these aren’t included in the crime survey of England and Wales. Likewise, the HMIC (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary) does not include them in the review of its treatment of victims of crime.”
Nick continued: “To put it into context, you’re more likely to be classed as a victim of crime if your motor vehicle is stolen.”
For families who are experiencing the immediate aftermath of a road traffic collision, emotional support and practical guidance are crucial. RoadPeace helps families to navigate the post-crash process and provides information and immediate support, including putting victims in touch with others who have been through a similar experience.
When Brigitte’s son, Mansoor, was killed by a van driver who ignored and still crossed a large number of traffic lights already at red when he was 100 metres away causing him to plough into Mansoor on his motorcycle who was crossing a green light. Despite Mansoor being the innocent victim of a law-breaking driver and killed in the most terrible and violent way imaginable, the van driver was only charged with the minor traffic offence of ‘Driving without due care and attention’, a charge which totally ignores the fact of death and is dealt with by lay magistrates. The van driver was fined a mere £250 and given six penalty points, Mansoor’s death wasn’t even mentioned.
The charge of ‘Causing death by dangerous driving’ - a charge heard in a Crown Court before a judge and jury - was, and continues to be, only brought in a minute number of deaths caused by law-breaking drivers.
Faced with the horrendous and heartbreaking fact of her child’s death, the appalling response to road deaths by the justice system and complete lack of information and support by any agency for the bereaved, confirmed to her through contact with other affected families, Brigitte soon realised that a dedicated organisation to inform and support road victim families and to lobby for change was needed.
RoadPeace’s pioneering work over 27 years, including a decade-long campaign for a new charge that no longer ignored the fact of death, many ongoing campaigns for reform of all post-crash areas, starting with crash investigations to national standards, calls for all relevant governmental departments to work together, and their “Crash, not Accident” and “Speed Kills” campaigns have all helped gradually to change attitudes to road traffic violations in the UK. However, the charity says there is still much to be done.
‘RoadPeace is the club that nobody wants to be in. It’s paramount that we continue to do all we can to improve road safety and positively change the treatment of road traffic victims and their families.”
To find out more about RoadPeace, visit www.roadpeace.org.
Brigade Electronics is a worldwide market-leading provider of safety devices and solutions for commercial vehicles and machinery.
Brigade’s products work to reduce the risk of collisions and protect vulnerable road users by minimising vehicle blind spots and assisting drivers to manoeuvre safely.
Founded in 1976 by Chris Hanson-Abbott OBE, Brigade Electronics introduced the very first reversing alarm to Europe and has been at the forefront of championing vehicle and plant safety ever since, pioneering new products, and developing and patenting new technology.
Brigade’s product portfolio includes 360-degree camera systems, camera monitor systems, White Sound® reversing alarms, obstacle detection sensors, obstacle detection radar and digital recorders.