The dangers of cycling too close to HGVs

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Cyclists are particularly vulnerable around heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) because they are longer, higher and wider than other road vehicles. The extra height of HGVs allows drivers to see further ahead, but it’s harder for them to see in the space directly in front and down the left-hand side of the truck.

This means there are several blind spots around an HGV where the driver can be completely unaware of the presence of a cyclist. In fact, up to 12 cyclists could be alongside the truck and still be unseen by the driver.

Some issues with blind spots

If you’re a cyclist, make sure you’re aware of these common blind spots around HGVs:

  • HGVs turning left – Cycling up the inside of the HGV on the left is dangerous. Not only is it likely that the driver won’t be able to see you, there is also a chance you will get trapped in between the pavement and the vehicle as the truck swings around the corner.
  • At traffic lights – Pulling up in front of an HGV might seem harmless, but there is another blind spot directly in front of the vehicle.
  • At the rear of the HGV – Stopping behind the HGV is often safer but give yourself enough distance or you could end up in the rear blind spot.
  • On the right of the HGV – Drivers have a better view of the right-hand side of the vehicle but be they do not have full visibility down this side.

What can be done to reduce accidents involving cyclists and HGVs?

Statistics gathered between 2015-2020 show there were over 1,500 casualties involving cyclists and HGVs, and 92 of these (6.1%) were fatal.

One common accident occurs when the cyclist falls and is dragged under the lorry, known as ‘underrun accidents’.

A former Metropolitan Police officer witnessed many of these injuries in his job and decided to try and solve the problem. James Dawes invented an inflatable ‘skirt’, designed to prevent cyclists from sliding under the vehicle in the gap between the front and rear wheels of the truck.

The DawesGuard acts as a barrier that stretches to the ground when it is inflated. It includes a panel with a large warning sign to alert cyclists to the danger of being too close.

New government regulations introduced in February 2022 allow the use of elongated cabs on lorries, designed to improve driver vision and awareness of cyclists around the vehicle.

Another solution being tested is the Sidescan®Predict, which senses objects such as cyclists around the vehicle and triggers an alert to the driver in the cab.

Top 5 safety tips for cyclists

Tim Blackwell, Director of Novum Law and a specialist personal injury solicitor from our Southampton team, offers these top safety tips for cyclists:

  1. Remember the simple rule: if you can’t see the driver in his mirrors, then the driver can’t see you.
  2. Avoid overtaking HGVs wherever possible. They are much wider than other road vehicles so there probably won’t be enough space for both of you. They are also six times longer than the average car, so it takes a long time to get past.
  3. Make yourself visible with hi vis clothes and lights.
  4. Move well forward of the truck at traffic lights and turn around to make eye contact with the driver to check they have seen you.
  5. If you’re cycling on the left and an HGV drives alongside you, attract their attention with a wave and then pull back while they pass.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a cycling accident that wasn’t your fault, it is important to speak to a specialist personal injury solicitor who specialises in cycling accident compensation claims. This ensures you receive the best medical treatment, rehabilitation and support available, and secure maximum compensation.

Our solicitors have many years of experience helping cyclists secure cycling accident compensation. To book a free, no obligation chat with us, call 0800 884 0777, email or complete our online enquiry form.

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