Risk to cyclists over lorry mirror laws

One third of HGVs will be exempt

New laws aimed at protecting cyclists from "death by lorry" will be ineffectual, say safety campaigners.

UK legislation currently being written will require HGVs to be fitted with larger mirrors aimed at removing blind spots from drivers' vision.

But lorries registered before the year 2000 will be exempt from the rules, which campaigners say will mean a third of vehicles on the road will not be required to fit the safety measures.

More than 1,600 cyclists have now signed a petition supporting the London Cycling Campaign's demand that all lorries should be fitted with wide vision mirrors.

The LCC says that lorries are involved in about half of all cyclists' deaths in the UK capital. Accidents often happen when HGV drivers turn left into cyclists without seeing them, due to blind spots in their field of vision.

Charlie Lloyd, LCC Cycling Development Officer and former HGV driver said, "The threat of large lorries is the biggest barrier to safer cycling, but about 120,000 older vehicles will not be fitted with these new safety mirrors.

"We want every lorry driver on the road to able to see pedestrians and cyclists."

"The threat of large lorries is the biggest barrier to safer cycling, but about 120,000 older vehicles will not be fitted..."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport did not deny the LCC's claims. She told Bikeradar.com: "Since October 1998 the DfT has required vehicles larger than 7.5 tonnes to be equipped with a wide-angle mirror on their passenger side and for articulated vehicles to be fitted with an additional 'close proximity' mirror. New legislation came into effect in January 2007 that requires the fitting of improved mirrors to newly registered goods vehicles.

"To address vehicles currently in use, a new European directive has just been adopted which will require existing heavy goods vehicles, first registered from January 1, 2000, to be retro-fitted with mirrors on the passenger side," she added. "National legislation in the UK has since 1998 required large vehicles over 12 tonnes to have close proximity mirrors fitted on the passenger side."

LCC campaigns manager Tom Bogdanowicz recently told Bikeradar.com that the Government's own figures estimated 18 cyclists' lives could be saved each year in the UK by the introduction of the new mirrors. Across Europe some 400 people are killed annually by lorry drivers who have failed to see them.

The LCC says the cost of retro-fitting the extra mirrors equates to a tank of diesel.

The group is urging people to join its campaign and write to their MEP about the issue. To find out more, visit the LCC website.

© BikeRadar 2007

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