Change the Highway Code to help save lives and reduce injuries, says FTA Tue Jul 14 15:20:00 BST 2009

"As road users, whether we’re on two, four or even sixteen wheels, we all have a responsibility to act sensibly and within the law. It’s unfair to make lorry drivers the scapegoat. Whenever there is an accident, or even a near miss, involving a lorry, the common assumption is that the lorry driver is at fault. But how many of us are aware of how much clearance we need to give HGVs when we are overtaking or how much distance do we need to keep to enable a lorry driver to see us?"

James Hookham, FTA’s Policy Director

Accidents and near-misses could be avoided if road users were more aware of their rights and responsibilities, particularly around lorries. That’s the view of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) which is today calling on the Department for Transport to amend the Highway Code to include better guidance on how to behave around lorries and to test drivers’ knowledge as part of their test.

At present, the Highway Code includes sections on how to behave around other cars, cyclists, motorcyclists and even those using powered mobility scooters, yet there is no mention made of lorries.

James Hookham, FTA’s Policy Director, thinks this is a fatal error:

“As road users, whether we’re on two, four or even sixteen wheels, we all have a responsibility to act sensibly and within the law. It’s unfair to make lorry drivers the scapegoat. Whenever there is an accident, or even a near miss, involving a lorry, the common assumption is that the lorry driver is at fault. But how many of us are aware of how much clearance we need to give HGVs when we are overtaking or how much distance do we need to keep to enable a lorry driver to see us?”

In 2007 alone, there were 10,688 accidents involving lorries, 461 of which involved serious injury or even death. FTA is concerned that, unless there is a compulsion on new drivers to learn and understand how to handle their vehicle around lorries, there will be more accidents. It has also made clear that logistics companies need to do their bit too and ensure their drivers’ training is as up-to-date and as comprehensive as it can be.

Hookham continued:

“Three years ago, the Driving Standards Agency consulted on changes to the Highway Code, but ended up bottling it. We’re asking them now to rethink that decision and help make our roads safer.”
 

Notes to Editors

1. FTA’s calls for changes to the Highway Code are made today in its submission to the Department for Transport’s Road Safety Consultation. Copies of the full submission are available on request.
2. FTA called for changes to the Highway Code in response to the Driving Standards Agency’s consultation on changes to the Highway Code in 2006. No changes were made and learner drivers are still not receiving tuition – or being tested – on behaviour around HGVs.
3. For further information or to arrange an interview with an FTA spokesperson, please contact the media team on 01892 552244/53 or, for out of hours enquiries, please contact 07985 874248 or 07818 450425.

 

FTA Press Office

01892 552255
press.office@fta.co.uk