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Road safety expert urges in-truck cameras amid recent cyclist deaths

A UK road safety expert has called for all lorries to have front and rear CCTV cameras amid concerns over the growing number of cyclists killed on UK roads.

Ex-Royal Mail lorry operator Melvyn Hodgetts, who was in charge of the entire fleet for more than 20 years, believes the use of cameras would greatly benefit the safety of cyclists and other road-users.

“One essential improvement would be to push for greater in-cab technology to reduce driver blind spots,” Hodgetts explained. “CCTV has progressed enormously in the last few years and can be a vital addition for drivers and help them to be aware of cyclists and pedestrians when their attention is being competed for by all manner of distractions.

“The latest on-vehicle camera systems not only provide blind spot coverage to give the driver vital vision of moving cyclists around them, but also gather data on driving behaviour, vehicle speed and positioning… Technology can make all the difference to reduce these tragic accidents.”

His words echo research by Smart Witness that claims most cycling fatalities occur in the blind spot of trucks, where a driver is unable to see using their wing mirrors. It’s hoped a series of cameras linked to a monitor in the cab of a truck would reduce the death toll.

Smart Witness specialises in designing and installing video systems in heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs), so it has a vested interest in such solutions. However, there’s no denying the use of blind-spot cameras would make life easier and safer the truck drivers who don’t want a death on their conscience and cyclists who want to get home in one piece.

“We have found that the haulage firms who have installed the Smart Witness video cameras have seen a significant reduction in accidents,” said Smart Witness managing director Simon Marsh. “Our system of cameras fitted around the lorry or coach give the driver a much better view of both the left and right-hand sides of his vehicle and can show if vehicles are directly behind as well.”

Five London cyclists have been killed over a nine day period, with a further four killed over the rest of 2013. An unnamed man became the most recent cyclist to meet his maker after being hit by a bus near Aldgate East station on Whitechapel Road, where one of London’s cycle superhighways can be found.

In a recent incident 27-year-old cyclist Claire Pepper was fortunate enough to have passers-by physically lift a VW Golf that ended on top of her, saving her life in the process.

Boris Johnson, who has dodged calls to review cycling safety in London, sparked anger from cyclists after claiming that, unless cyclists abide by road laws, “there’s no amount of traffic engineering that we invest in that is going to save people’s lives”.

Besides clever camera systems, other potential solutions include a central seating position in heavy-goods vehicles to improve their view (some dustbin lorries already have this), making deliveries happen at off-peak cycling hours and specifically designing junctions to separate traffic.

Think CCTV cameras in large vehicles is a good place to start? Let us know.

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