I sent a message to a lorry driver, about the latest news item about lorries and cyclists, and this is what he said:-
“Thanks for the news item. Didn’t realise it was so bad in London.
I don’t know of any extra tests but a new system for driver cpc (certificate of professional competence is due Sept 2009.Don’t know syllabus as yet but 35 hours spent in a classroom over five years must be completed. Extra blind spot mirrors are also to be compulsory from march 2009 I believe. All this extra training etc is good but the fact remains that a driver can work 15 hours of which 10 can be driving and a tired driver is a bad driver.
The government a few years ago brought in the 48 hour working week great we thought. They then introduced periods of availability whereby if you are held up at a depot waiting to be unloaded for four hours you are regarded as not working so the time doesn’t count to the 48 hours,So drivers still end up doing 70+ hours.
Take into consideration a driver say driving to London from the north, by the time he hits the smoke hes tired he now maybe has to find somewhere he hasn’t been before. He’s got a map he’s also looking out for bridge heights, weight restrictions, red routes,congestion zone.While drivers are cutting in front as hes being cautious and a cyclist rides alongside.Lets not hope its raining as well and the heated mirrors decide not to work cos he wont be seeing much let alone a cyclist. Do you see my point that driver may be trained up to the eyeballs but he’s human he tires and has lapses in concentration.There are bad lorry drivers like any profession but being good isn’t much use if people are not aware of the dangers a lorry poses. Cycles need to steer well clear of any lorries as much as possible. I think they need to analyse the accidents in more detail and get some statistics as to what is the main cause and work from there.
I do believe some cyclists do take stupid risks or are not aware of the risks. But putting a cycle lane on an already narrow road doesn’t help matters.How often have you seen a nice wide pavement and grass verge and a cycle lane in the road. And some lorry drivers are down right ignorant thinking they own the road but with more technology coming along and tighter controls they will become a thing of the past hopefully.”
and about tackling big lorries he said:-
“All lorries on uk roads can now carry a maximum of 44 tonnes. The double ones you ask about are called wagon and drag. I havent personally driven one but i have been told its no harder than a standard articulated lorry. They are slightly longer in length. Pulling away is slow and the idea is to keep moving once at speed so you look well ahead and assess the traffic and try not to stop and keep rolling.This is more economical saves diesel, wear and tear, and hopefully keeps people behind you a bit less frustrated.You need to leave room to stop but no doubt you will have seen lorries nose to tail everywhere scary really.
I think we are all to blame in some respect as everybody wants things cheaper and cheaper. So they increase lorry weights to cut costs and run people to the maximum they are allowed by lawand
“Sadly lorries are a necessary evil. As they say in the industry “If you bought it a lorry brought it”.