Vulnerable road user casualty figures are disproportionally high when compared to other road user types, with more than 23,000 pedestrian casualties recorded in one year in the UK. We explain how LGV drivers can reduce the risk to vulnerable road users, including themselves, through the right training.
What is a vulnerable road user?
Pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders are all considered vulnerable road users. Some people believe that cyclists are the most vulnerable, but arguably cyclists have more maneuverability (and speed) than a pedestrian, and helmets offer at least some protection.
Clearly, pedestrians are the most vulnerable group and their movements are usually unpredictable. They may be elderly and slow, young and fast or they could be individuals with physical impairments such as wheelchair users, or they may be blind. Pedestrians are also easily distracted by their phones, music (can’t hear through headphones) or what’s around them, and they don’t always follow the rules.
These pedestrians could be anybody, even lorry drivers leaving their cab at a service station or on the side of the road. And it’s not just in urban areas, vulnerable road users are found everywhere, for example, farmers driving tractors.
Unfortunately, it is a terrifying fact that in a collision, pedestrians may be exposed to the full force of the impact (unlike inside a car), and the statistics are shocking.
What are the risks?
Crashes involving lorries and other road users are reported throughout the UK on a near daily basis. A report from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows that 1,770 road fatalities were recorded in the year ending June 2018. 26,610 people were killed or seriously injured in this period and 165,100 casualties of all severities.
As for the statistics on vulnerable road users, over 23,000 casualties were pedestrians, 17,500 cyclists and more than 17,000 were motorcyclists! Many of these will have involved LGVs.
Here are just two examples of accidents involving lorries and vulnerable road users:
What can cause a driver to disregard other road users?
There are many reasons for a collision such as the driver’s behavior. Are they taking risks, is there a lack of attention or are they driving aggressively? Are there distractions in or outside of the cab, or are they under pressure with deadlines for deliveries or other time constraints?
Fleet managers and their responsibility
According to the road safety charity Brake, their recent fleet survey suggests that many fleet managers are aware of their responsibilities towards vulnerable road users. However, it is clear there is more they could do to raise awareness of these issues among their staff and enshrine positive action in their organisation’s policies.
Read more about Brake’s 2018 survey on vulnerable road users here.
The fact is that proper training, that gives drivers professional standards to work to, can help reduce risk and improve safety for all road users. What’s more, is that businesses can use Driver CPC training (DCPC) to deliver it.
Vulnerable road users training as part of DCPC
The RTITB vulnerable road user training session is a topic delivered as part of RTITB’s Driver CPC training which helps to reduce the risk. The course covers a number of factors including how drivers can predict the potential for vulnerable road users by taking visual cues from the environment around them, for example:
- Variable 20-30 speed limit signs might suggest the close proximity of a school and children
- A recreation park or playing field might also suggest children in the area
- Road signs and road markings denoting pedestrians, the elderly, cyclists and children
- Train stations during rush hour are usually packed with commuters rushing for trains, focusing on saying goodbye to loved ones
- Country roads on summer evenings are popular with cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders
The course covers how they can reduce the risk, including a focus on route planning that looks at areas that are busier at certain times of day, or have road width or weight restrictions.
It looks at the importance of driver’s hours to ensure drivers are focused, have breaks to keep them fresh/rested and not run risk of incident due to tiredness/lack of food and water.
Reversing is also covered which is one of the most dangerous things any driver will ever have to do in a large goods vehicle. Pedestrians are not always appreciative of the difficulties of maneuvering a large goods vehicle, particularly in reverse and will often stray closer than they should.
Space and time should always be at the forefront of drivers’ minds, but it is particularly important when thinking about vulnerable road users, which is also covered in the course.
Speed is also a focus for the DCPC training topic, together with observation and the technology to aid the drivers’ awareness of vulnerable road users. Vehicle inspection and maintenance is covered particularly with regards to protrusions, overhangs and vehicle defects, and drivers are reminded that they themselves are regular vulnerable road users.
Join RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium and deliver training inhouse
Employers can join the RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium so that they can effectively deliver CPC Training. Members get the best resources and the support needed to ensure drivers receive high quality training that helps eliminate risks. There is a wide range of training modules to choose from including vulnerable road users and it enables businesses to standardise training across the company, making it more cost effective.
In fact, our members deliver more CPC training across the UK than anyone else, bringing ROI for members and making a measurable difference such as savings on fuel.
Find a training provider that can deliver RTITB CPC training
Alternatively, if you are looking to outsource training, you can choose from more than 180 RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium members throughout the UK who deliver Driver CPC training to our standard. Find a course near you using our course locator.
Talk to the RTITB Solutions team on +44 (0) 1952 520207 or visit www.rtitb.co.uk.