Lorry drivers and cyclists will be encouraged to see the road from each other’s viewpoint as part of a road safety initiative to coincide with this week’s Road Safety Week (November 23-29).
At the ‘Exchanging Places’ event at Gateshead Civic Centre, members of the Council’s Road Safety team and Fleet Management team will be encouraging road users to ‘look out for each other’ by giving cyclists, pedestrians and lorry drivers the chance to swap places.
Members of the public will be able to climb into the cab on one the Council’s gritter lorries to see first-hand exactly what a lorry driver can – and can’t – see from the driving seat. Drivers will also have a chance to sit on a bike alongside the lorry to demonstrate how vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians can be.
Road Safety Officers will be on-hand to explain how accidents between large vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians occur and the simple ways to avoid them, as well as demonstrating the best places for a cyclist to position themselves when passing a heavy goods vehicle.
The public event will be held in the car park at Gateshead Civic Centre on November 25 between 10am and 3pm.
Councillor John McElroy, Gateshead Cabinet member for Environment and Transport, says: “We are urging people to ‘look out for each other’, but we know that can be difficult if you don’t understand the other’s point of view.
“What many people don’t appreciate is that lorries can have significant areas around them where it is difficult for the driver to see pedestrians and cyclists. So although the safety advice ‘stay safe, stay seen’ seems simple, in practice it can be a lot more difficult to implement.
“That’s what this event is aiming to tackle – by changing places, lorry drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can see and understand the road from the other’s perspective and, hopefully, appreciate the dangers. This greater understanding will help everyone to behave in ways that will safeguard other road users and reduce accidents.
“This type of accident is a problem nationally, though we’ve been fortunate in Gateshead not to have had significant numbers injured in this way. But one is too many. That’s why we are reinforcing the message that accidents between lorries, cyclists and pedestrians can be avoided by taking precautions and being observant.”
Greg Marah, campaigns assistant for road safety charity Brake, says: “This year’s Road Safety Week theme of ‘drive less, live more’ makes clear the link between improving road safety, preventing casualties, protecting people and the planet, and our choice of transport.
“Our main aim through this November’s Road Safety Week is to help people consider the travel options which are open to them and better understand the benefits of driving less, to road safety, health, personal finances, communities and the planet.
“We believe this year’s theme is a critical one for all of us, providing a chance to show how road safety is a bigger issue than many people think.”
Between 2010 and 2014, there were 49 accidents in Gateshead where a pedestrian or cyclist was injured by a large vehicle with a notable blind spot. Eighteen of these injuries occurred when the vehicle was turning left or right or changing lane, resulting in 9 slight injuries, 8 serious and 1 fatal casualty.
More than half of these injuries (53%) were as a result of either the driver or the pedestrian or cyclist failing to look properly.