Road safety charity tackles blind spot negligence

JonathanJune 30, 2014

Road safety charity Brake is aiming to reduce the number of road traffic accidents across the UK by tackling the issue of blind spot negligence, as well as other common driver indiscretions.

In particular, Brake is offering expert guidance to help fleets prevent crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists by addressing blind spots, reducing risky manoeuvring, and raising awareness among drivers.

The guidance, published through Brake's Fleet Safety Forum, includes expert insights, best practice case studies and sample advice sheets for drivers.

It follows the publication of data revealing that, in 2012, 866 cyclists, pedestrians and motorbikers were killed and 13,781 were seriously injured on UK roads – which is the equivalent of 40 deaths and serious injuries per day, comprising 60 per cent of all UK road deaths and serious injuries.

These road users are particularly vulnerable to vehicles manoeuvring, as they are more easily missed in drivers' blind spots; something highlighted by 75 per cent of cyclist collisions in Britain occurring at or near junctions.

Brake notes that all vehicles have blind spots, although different vehicles have them in different places, with larger vehicles having larger blind spots.

As such, the guidance report – entitled 'Protecting vulnerable road users from vehicle blind spots' – advises fleet managers on steps they can take to reduce the dangers to people on foot and bike, including technology, risk assessments, driver engagement, and vehicle selection.

It also includes a case study from a company that has addressed its blind spot risk, and information on technological developments, with attached driver advice sheets including tips on safe, slow manoeuvring for drivers of commercial vehicles and cars and vans.

This guidance comes as Brake starts building up to Road Safety Week, which this year takes place between November 17th and 23rd and will focus on the theme "Look out for each other".

The charity will be calling on everyone to look out for one another on roads, but particularly drivers to help protect vulnerable road users, while employers will be encouraged to get involved through activities such as running internal awareness-raising to promote safe driving, launching new risk management initiatives, or working with the local community.

Laura Woods, research and information officer at Brake, said that people have a right to be able to walk and cycle without being endangered, and that employers and drivers have a "key role" to play in making streets safer for walking and cycling and preventing tragedies.

"Addressing and managing the risks caused by blind spots, and ensuring drivers are manoeuvring with the utmost care, is essential," she explained.

"This report sets out vital steps managers should take – whatever types of vehicles they run – to minimise blind spots and ensure drivers know how they can best protect vulnerable road users."

Maurice Tulloch, UK & Ireland general insurance chief executive at Aviva, which is partnering with Brake on the initiative, said the "tragic outcomes" of when a vehicle and a vulnerable road user come into contact are all-too-often seen, and an increasing trend.

She concluded: "We believe that raising awareness is key to addressing the growing issues we are witnessing on the UK's roads."

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