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In an effort to reduce the number of fatal accidents between HGVs and bicycles, numerous voices are calling for the implementation of new technology that could eliminate blind spots on both lorries and buses. In addition, several municipalities have developed training programmes over the years for both professional drivers and cyclists. The idea is to allow the two groups to switch places so that they can see what it’s like to be in the other’s seat. All of these things are good. However, technology and transport training can only help so much.

Beginning with the idea of technology, we are seeing all sorts of exciting new developments that could make HGV driving safer. For example, redesigned cabs offer larger windscreens and side windows for maximum visibility. Such developments are being paired with newly designed mirrors, video cameras, and even electronic sensors warning that a cyclist might be too close. All of the same technology can be fitted to buses and coaches as well.

The problem with all of this technology is that there comes a point of system overload resulting in diminished returns. In other words, how often do we see situations where a lorry driver is checking his or her mirrors on one side while, during that same split second, a cyclist rides into the blind spot on the other side. That driver could be doing everything by the book and still not be aware that a cyclist is alongside.

With every piece of new technology added to commercial vehicles, drivers have yet something else to pay attention to. The simple fact of the matter is that they cannot pay attention to everything simultaneously. Technology may help, but it is never going to eliminate accidents altogether.

Transport Training Not Perfect Either

Transport training is vital to helping professional drivers fully understand what it is they are doing on a daily basis. As part of our training, we focus quite a bit on safety from almost every aspect. We assume other training companies do likewise. But again, training can only help so much. It is not perfect.

Training can teach the professional driver what to do in congested traffic. It can teach drivers how to correctly negotiate turns and spot developing hazards ahead. But no amount of training can account for the fact that human beings are predictably unpredictable. Sometimes another driver or a cyclist does something that is completely unanticipated.

Perhaps there are other things we can look at in addition to better transport training and updating commercial vehicles with new technology. It may be time to start talking about creating new traffic systems that keep cyclists and commercial vehicles separated at all times. Perhaps it is time to enact regulations that prohibit cyclists from pulling up alongside commercial vehicles altogether.

We don’t necessarily know what the answers are, but we do know that technology and transport training have their limits. While we work to figure this out, we encourage HGV drivers to be safe.


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