Phil Bennion MEP: New lorry safety rules will save fuel and save lives

Groupe ALDEEvery year hundreds of cyclists and pedestrians die on Britain’s roads as a result of accidents involving lorries, but many of these deaths could be prevented by improving lorry designs and reducing dangerous blind-spots.

Today MEPs met with safety campaigners in Brussels who are calling for tighter EU rules to improve lorry safety, including Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Chris Boardman, Kate Cairns from the See Me Save Me Campaign and London’s Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gillighan. Lorry manufacturers Laing O’Rourke and Cemex were also in Brussels to show off new designs that incorporate a number of safety features, including wing mirrors and camera systems specially designed to improve a driver’s field of vision.

Next month the European Parliament will vote on an EU proposal concerning the weights and dimensions of lorries which includes requirements for new, lifesaving designs of lorry cabs.

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion has tabled amendments that will require improved drivers’ sightlines and safer cab fronts to reduce the damage caused by impacts with cyclists and pedestrians.

Commenting, he said:

“Improving the design of lorries will save fuel, but more importantly it will save lives. Redesigned lorry cabs with a curvy nose, a crash box and better vision for drivers could drastically improve lorry safety and prevent hundreds of fatal accidents every year.”

“The lorries on our roads come from all over Europe so it is particularly important that we act at the European level on this issue. That is why I am pressing for EU-wide changes that will make lorries both safer and greener. “

Chris Boardman commented:

“The measures that we are urging the EU to take today will demonstrably improve the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists, making these environmentally friendly forms of transport more appealing. By adopting these recommendations the EU could play an important role in changing our transport habits to benefit us all. It would be criminal for us to know how to save lives and then choose not to take action.”

Kate Cairns said:

‘It is exactly five years since we lost my sister, Eilidh Cairns, after she was run down from behind by a tipper lorry. The driver didn’t see her. The See Me Save Me campaign calls for mandatory elimination of lorry blind spots”.

“It’s a painfully slow process with much tragedy in the meantime but I am encouraged by this momentum and welcome this opportunity to join forces and continue the fight to reduce such violent death and injury on our roads.’

Bennion: Safer roads in the UK and across Europe

MEPs in Strasbourg today approved proposals for new EU rules to test the roadworthiness of vehicles and set minimum standards for technical roadside inspections with the aim of reducing the number of road fatalities across Europe by 50% between 2010 and 2020.

In the UK, the number of people killed in road accidents reported to the police dropped by 8% to 1,754 in 2012 from 1,901 in 2011.

UK Liberal Democrat European transport spokesperson Phil Bennion said:

“The UK has led the way on road safety standards. These proposed new EU rules aim to raise standards right across Europe. Continue reading