Charlie Lloyd of LCC on the delay to fitting of 'blind-spot' mirrors
16.04.08 by Buffalo Bill
I sent an email to Charlie Lloyd of London Cycling Campaign (LCC) asking for his comments on the story that appeared on the BBC about the Department for Transport (DfT) delaying the introduction of the EU legislation on the fitting of ‘blind-spot’ mirrors to LGV/HGV/lorries. This regulation, you will recall, will require that all new lorries have the 4th mirror, which gives the driver an indirect view into the area to the left and front of his cab (or right and front in a left-hand drive vehicle). Correctly used, it could cut the numbers of people killed by lorries in the EU by around a 100 a year. But the DfT apparently has serious reservations about the weight of the new mirrors, and is said to be dragging their feet.
Given that around 25 cyclists a year are killed in the UK as the result of a collision with a lorry, I guess we could estimate that the lives of around 12 or so cyclists could be saved in the UK, and many more serious injuries could be prevented. I should say that we need to be careful with these numbers, as predicting the numbers of lives that might be saved by a proposed safety feature is a very inexact science.
Here’s what Charlie, who probably knows as much anyone, and certainly, it appears, a lot more than the DfT, about the issue, had to say in an email to me:
The EU directive of retro-fitting mirrors to HGVs (ones since 2000) says it should be implemented by March 2009. Last year the DfT gave us the impression that they would start doing this in March 2008 so each lorry could be checked as it came in for its annual MOT check. Since then we have heard nothing, the freight operators have heard nothing, nothing is happening. Following enquiries last week it seems they may get it together to START implementing the directive in 2009, so it would not be completed until March 2010. This is a breach of the EU directive, but they will get away with it. Previously DfT have calculated the benefits of the new mirrors at 18 lives saved a year (mostly pedestrians, plus cyclists and motorcyclists). There is no justification for yet another year’s delay.
If they were to extend the update to the 100,000+ lorries on the road over 8 years old it would presumably save another 6-7 lives. The DfT line about problems with the weight of the extra mirrors is grossly overstated. Almost all these lorries are built to EU designs, both sides of the cab are stong enough to carry the extra mirrors, (the updating rules require one extra mirror on the driver side and different shaped mirrors elsewhere). A very few specialist vehicles will not have the cab strength to support the extra weight and wind resistance. The DfT have guessed that 10% of the older lorries would have problems. My guess is that less than 2% would have this problem. Whatever the number the EU rules allow special consideration; for example these lorries could be fitted with fresnal lenses at £8 each, or an internal extra mirror for a bit more.
In a statement to the BBC, the DfT said that they would ensure that the directive is implemented on time. Based on what Charlie is telling us, this is obviously a lie.