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HGV training in London was recently taken to a new level thanks to a program sponsored by the Ealing Council. The program, known as Safer Urban Driving, aims to help lorry drivers to be safer when driving in congested cities like London. One of the components of the program is bicycle awareness.

Lorry drivers availing themselves of the training were spotted doing something unusual for HGV training classes: riding bicycles. Indeed, the lorry drivers took a turn being cyclists having to share the road with lorries in order to give them a sense of what cyclists think and how they react. The hope is that the experience will help lorry drivers better anticipate what cyclists may do.

Sharing the Road

More than one lorry driver would say sharing the road with other vehicles is one of the hardest parts of the job. It is easy to control your own driving, especially given the HGV training drivers go through, but there is nothing that can be done to prevent other drivers from making poor decisions. Moreover, when it comes to cyclists, the danger is obviously multiplied.

Cyclists are among the hardest vehicles for lorry drivers to identify because of their size and the way they move in and out of traffic. Therefore, it is important for drivers of large vehicles to learn how to anticipate the tendencies of cyclists. When they can do so successfully, the roads are that much safer.

Preparing to Be a Driver

When an individual is preparing to become an HGV driver, dealing with bicyclists and other vehicles is part of the training. The future driver must address the topic through the theory test; a test designed to assess general highway knowledge and hazard prevention.

When the future driver gets behind the wheel for his or her practical training, he or she will also be instructed to a certain extent about sharing the road with bicyclists. The depth of that training is left largely to the instructor. Yet despite both the theory and practical training, nothing prepares a driver better than real life experience. That’s why putting lorry drivers on bicycles and letting them experience HGV traffic is a great idea.

To understand just how important this training is, consider a chilling statistic: since the year 2000 half of all the deaths among London cyclists have been the result of collisions with heavy goods vehicles. It stands to reason when you consider the size and weight disparity between bicycles and lorries.

In addition to lorry driver training, the program being offered in Ealing will also focus on making cyclists more aware of their environment. This includes installing signs, educating the general public and, in some cases, offering cyclist training as well. Hopefully the efforts will pay off with safer roads and fewer accidents between cyclists and lorries. In the meantime, lorry drivers should stop and consider next time they see a cyclist; he or she may be one of them learning was it’s like to be on the other side.

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