Should employers do more to protect cyclists?

Government figures show that vehicles being driven for work cause significant proportion of road deaths and injuries

Road safety charity Brake has called for employers to do more to promote responsible driving.

Government figures suggest that 24 per cent of road deaths and serious injuries involve a vehicle being driven for work.

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In a survey of 228 companies, Brake found that 54 per cent of employers don’t train drivers on protecting pedestrians and cyclists, while 68 per cent don’t instruct drivers to slow to 20mph near schools, homes and shops.

David Dansky, of Cycle Training UK, argues that health and safety standards should be applied at least as much when employees are on the roads as in the workplace, and argues that on-bike training for drivers is essential to improve cyclist safety on the roads.

“I think the issue is drivers not understanding the space that people on bikes need,” he said. “Once they get on a bike and they know how it feels to be riding on a road with potholes and the noise of all the cars around them, it really brings home the message that when they are in a car they need to give cyclists space.”

“We train many drivers through the FORS [Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme], and many of them comment that they wouldn’t have understood this without having got on a bike, and they also comment that they had forgotten how fun it is to ride a bike. I think it is crucial.”

Transport for London implemented FORS in 2008 in response to the high proportion of cyclists killed in collisions with lorries (five out of 14 cyclist deaths in the capital in 2012). Now all new or existing contractors working for TfL must ensure vehicles over 3.5 tonnes meet the requirements of the scheme — side guards, close proximity warning systems, mirrors and signage warning cyclists of blind spots — or face being turned away from sites or having their contracts terminated.

Hackney and Lambeth councils insist all of their fleet drivers have had on-bike cycle awareness training. In its literature Hackney Council says it is   employers’ responsibility to ensure they are not putting others at risk by work-related driving, riding and cycling activities. It offers free safe urban driving courses to HGV drivers who operate within the borough, including on-bike training on how to share the road safely with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Dansky adds although councils such as Hackney and Lambeth are leading the way in improving driver training, individual companies need to do more, including training drivers of smaller vehicles to share the roads safely.

Brake argues that employers with staff who drive for work should implement journey planning, driver education, using technology to eliminate blind spots, and monitor speed and “build a culture of always putting safety first”.

Brake is encouraging employers to sign up to Road Safety Week, 17-23 November. This year’s theme is “look out for each other” and Brake says people driving should slow down for 20mph zones, look longer and slow down at junctions and give other road users plenty of room.

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