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Cyclists at risk from construction vehicles

Posted in: Bicycle Accidents Motorcycle Accidents Road Traffic Accidents 

The dangers of travelling on Britain’s roads are well documented, but some groups of road users can face a higher degree of risk than others.

The latest road casualty figures from the Department for Transport show that pedestrians, pedal and motorcyclists are amongst the most vulnerable users of our roads.

Casualty figures

The statistics show that in the year ending September 2012:

  • The number of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists killed or seriously injured increased by 6, 8 and 4% respectively compared to the previous year.
  • This that means 6,040 pedestrians, 3,270 cyclists and 5,440 motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured between October 2011 and September 2012.

There are no signs that the volume of traffic on the roads is set to decrease. In fact, the figures show that motor vehicle traffic levels rose by 0.2% compared with the previous 12 months. This means that other measures will need to be found to improve the safety of the most vulnerable road users.

Cycling dangers in London

A recent report has highlighted the specific danger posed to one of these vulnerable road user groups in London from construction vehicles.

Figures show that between 2008 and 2011, 56% of the cycling fatalities in London have involved large commercial vehicles, including a disproportionate number of construction vehicles.

In 2011 alone, 16 cyclists were killed on London’s roads. Of these, nine involved heavy goods vehicles and seven of these were construction vehicles.

Transport for London (TfL) has already implemented a number of measures to improve the safety of London’s cyclists. These include requiring all TfL and Crossrail contracts to ensure their vehicles meet strict safety standards and have cycle specific safety equipment, including side-bars, blind spot mirrors and detection equipment fitted to reduce the risk of collisions on the capital’s roads.

However, to help address the specific problem posed by construction vehicles, TfL commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to conduct an independent review of how cycle safety is considered within the design and operation of construction vehicles within the construction industry.


The TRL review found that effective safety measures governing the movement of construction vehicles were already in place on construction worksites, and recommended that these measures be extended to cover all vehicle movements related to the construction project concerned, both off and on site.

TRL claims that this would help ensure greater responsibility is placed upon contractors to monitor and where necessary improve driver behaviour.

In total, the review made 12 key recommendations to improve road safety within the construction industry. These include:

  • Extending existing health and safety regulations governing the reporting of road accidents.
  • Requiring vehicle manufacturers to carry out more research into the blind spots of construction vehicles, which can be a lot larger than the blind spots of normal delivery lorries.
  • Asking contractors and their clients to think about more realistic time slots for deliveries.

Support for report findings

The findings of the report have been described as hugely important by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He explained that the next step is to press the construction industry, safety regulators, highway authorities and politicians to act on the report.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.


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