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Rise Of Fatal Road Accidents Involving HGVs

10th March 2014

Lorry drivers involved in any kind of traffic incident, especially heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, are often immediately assumed to be culpable by other road users. A general negative perception can also feed into accident witness statements and press reporting.

Since September 2008, when the Professional Drivers and Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) was introduced, more than 430,000 have completed training to qualify as professional lorry, bus or coach drivers.

Previously, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has stated that most collisions involving cyclists and other vehicle drivers are likely to involve HGV lorry drivers, causing around 16 per cent of cyclist deaths despite representing just 5 per cent of all vehicles on the road. Lorries and vans together are responsible for 26 per cent of all cyclist fatalities.


Worrying year-on-year trend

We are concerned to hear that new research conducted in 2013 by the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit (MTRU) for the Campaign for Better Transport, has revealed a worrying year-on-year trend, which they suggest shows a continued rise of fatal road accidents involving HGVs compared with other vehicle types.

According to the MTRU, more than half (52 per cent) of fatal motorway accidents involve HGVs, despite only accounting for 10 per cent of motorway traffic. HGVs are also involved in 1 in 5 fatal crashes on A roads, and are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident on a minor road than other vehicles.

It has also been reported that 36 ongoing prosecutions and 50 fixed penalty notices were issued in 2013 to drivers and operators for failure to produce or have evidence of an initial CPC qualification, periodic training or exemption.  


The “acquired right” to drive a larger vehicle


Possession of a CPC allows the “acquired right” to drive a larger vehicle of the same type (or drive with a trailer) if not included on an original ‘vocational’ licence. Anyone who is new to “professional” driving and wants to drive a lorry, bus or coach must first obtain a CPC, which requires drivers to pass all four parts of the initial qualification.


While failure of bus and lorry drivers to show evidence of an initial CPC qualification has arisen last year, there still remains key issues associated with the presence of lorries and HGVs on the road, impacting the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, in particular


A significant forward step towards reducing accidents and injuries


It is already a legal requirement for many HGVs to be fitted with safety equipment such as sidebars, but certain other HGV types are exempt, including construction lorries, tipper trucks, waste vehicles and cement mixers. At the end of January, London Mayor, Boris Johnson proposed an “outright ban” on all lorries over 3.5 tonnes from entering London, which are not fitted with equipment designed to reduce driver “blind spots” and enable cyclists to be seen at all times.


Aimed to be in place by Autumn 2014, it remains to be seen whether the legislation will eventually be applied in other cities and towns around Britain, which would be a significant forward step towards reducing accident and injuries, and accident claims by vulnerable road users caused by lorries and HGVs.