Last week, HGV driver Joao Lopes was sentenced to four years imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving (and also to 12 months imprisonment, to be served concurrently, for falsification of tachograph data).
What is significant is that Lopes will be back on the roads in six years time, free to drive an HGV in central London, provided he passes an extended driving test. This is despite a catalogue of driving misdemeanours, including the deaths of both Eilidh Cairns and Nora Guttman. Shockingly, when Lopes failed to spot the elderly Mrs Guttman on a pedestrian crossing in Marylebone, he was not wearing the spectacles he was required to wear following his conviction of driving with uncorrected defective vision after he ran over Eilidh Cairns in 2009. This was his only conviction following that death – he was fined £200, given 3 points on his licence, and allowed to continue driving, partly because of a bungled police investigation, and a police attitude that treated the death as a mere accident.
The relevance of Eilidh’s death was of course that it made it plain to Lopes that he needed glasses to drive and one would have thought that tragedy would be a sobering experience for any driver regardless of whether or not the police investigation had demonstrated fault on his part. Yet his subsequent driving record was appalling. In July 2009 he drove into the rear of another vehicle causing £3,000 worth of damage. In August 2010 he was involved in a collision though he disputes this was his fault and the Judge therefore rightly disregarded it. In March 2011 he collided with a parked motor vehicle and failed to stop, as a consequence of which he was dismissed by his then employer. In June 2011, shortly before he killed Ms Gutmann, he attempted to overtake a minicab so closely that he removed the wing mirror.
That is, four serious incidents that would have resulted in death or serious injury had the objects collided with been human beings. In June last year came the almost inevitable death of a pedestrian at the hands of Lopes.
The man has proven himself serially incapable of driving an HGV safely, and yet, barring passing another driving test, there will be nothing to stop him piloting lorries around central London in precisely the same reckless manner in six years’ time.
Lopes is not alone. The HGV driver Dennis Putz, who ran over and killed Catriona Patel in June 2009 while over the drink drive limit and talking on a mobile phone, had a string of convictions, including three previous drink driving convictions and twenty convictions for driving while disqualified. Quite simply, he should not have been driving legally at the time, nor should any firm even have considered employing him, or indeed Lopes. Yet both these men were free to continue endangering human beings in central London. After the death of Catriona Patel, Putz was, finally, handed a lifetime driving ban. Lopes presumably has not racked up enough carnage to justify the same penalty.
Here’s a shocking incident, filmed in Horsham.
Although the cyclist in question was lucky enough to escape with merely being struck on the shoulder, at speed, by the lorry, it’s not hard to imagine how the outcome could have been much worse. Clipped a little further along the body of the flatbed, a little harder, and he may have gone under the rear wheels.
It was a highly dangerous maneouvre – and a pointless one, because if you know Horsham, you are bound to be waiting at the lights at the end of the road – with the only mitigation being the apologetic behaviour of the driver, who seems startled at how badly he messed up.
Yet the attitude of the police, in response to this incident, is strikingly similar to that encountered by Martin Porter, who writes, again,
Near misses from lorries are not pursued by the Metropolitan Police because (I learnt last week) a safe passing distance is thought to be too subjective. The quality of response from employers of drivers who have passed much too close varies from the highly responsible to the shockingly irresponsible (I have had one example of each in the last few days). It does not take many miles of cycling experience to recognize that action is required to reduce the number of HGV/cyclist collisions which so frequently result in death. A ‘nothing can be done’ attitude would be unthinkable if considering deaths in an industrial, disease, terrorism or virtually any other unnatural premature death outside the context of road traffic collision.
Sussex Police are apparently “not interested in attributing blame” for the incident shown in the video. The cyclist even asked to take the video to a traffic officer, but was told not to bother because, again, they “wouldn’t be interested”.
After protesting, I was told a cyclist was clipped by a lorry on the A24 (great I ride on that too) yesterday and thrown into a hedge – they didn’t do anything for him either, so I guess that means its OK to let poor driving continue to put vulnerable road users at risk….
other than asking if I was insured (the cheek) [exchanging details] is all the police were interested in. Looking at the standard of driving involved? Not interested, they “only do that if they attend the scene”.
To digress slightly, my personal opinion is that, regardless of the standard of driving, cyclists and HGVs should be structurally separated as much as possible. Residential roads should be closed off to through traffic, and main roads should require either cycle tracks, or entirely separate routes for cyclists. Indeed, I recently compiled a post showing how few interactions I had with Dutch HGVs while cycling around Assen and Groningen on a David Hembrow study tour. Mixing directly with a large vehicle while cycling in the Netherlands is rare; much, much rarer than is the case in London or other UK cities and towns.
Human beings are not infallible, and even with higher standards of driving (and cycling), mistakes will happen. The consequences of those mistakes should not be fatal. Structural separation allows people, particularly cyclists, to make mistakes with only minor consequences. It has the further important benefit of making journeys by bicycle subjectively safe, as well as objectively safe. Instead of cycling around and amongst thunderous lorries and buses, which is hardly a pleasant experience, cycling becomes stress-free.
We are a long way from that situation in the United Kingdom, of course. We expect children and the elderly to cycle on roads that are shared with large and fast-moving vehicles. The very least we should be doing, under these circumstances, is making sure that those vehicles are driven responsibly and with great care, and that all mistakes and near-misses are thoroughly investigated. Yet the evidence seems to be that collisions, injuries and deaths involving cyclists and pedestrians at the hands of the drivers of these vehicles are often treated with shocking ambivalence. This must change.
Disgraceful. It’s mortifying to think that the police don’t believe that such dangerous driving is deserving of their attention. I assume that they put all incidents involving cycling in the same box, be they motorists in the ASL, red light jumping cyclists, abusive and intimidating behaviour.
If it’s on a bike, it’s not worth their time, unless there’s a serious injury or fatality.
Evidently Sussex Police (On Twitter @Sussex_Police) say that “Reports of dangerous driving are always investigated see operationcrackdown.org for details on reporting.”.
But of course how much actual “investigation” is required to satisfy the “no action required” response?
Even if they do nothing, please keep reporting to Operation Crackdown. The police are guided in what they do by statistics, and the more people report dangerous driving the more they’re likely to start taking it seriously (currently I’d guess that the police get more complaints about cycling on pavements than of bad driving). Operation Crackdown should also tend to pick up on the few repeat-offenders who drive dangerously, so even if a bad driver hasn’t been reported before, it’s quite likely they’ll be reported again, and then action is much more likely to be taken.
Quite why killing and injuring innocent people with motor vehicles is considered “OK”, when doing the same with a knife, gun or cricket bat would be severely responded to, is beyond my comprehension.
Even people who look like they might be “terrorists” are given a harder time than people who actually have killed or injured. Most of the terror and fear around here is caused by motor vehicles.
I had a well-known supermarket chain HGV chugging along behind me on country lanes yesterday. Fairly busy roads – I could hear the gear changes as he struggled to find an appropriate gap to overtake – in the end I just pulled over and rode slowly through a parking space – not worth the hassle. Always wary of HGVs since I nearly got wiped out by one on the M25, nearly taking out the central res. couldn’t agree more about the need to separate HGVs – even my local shop (part of a national franchise) gets big-assed lorries delivering in a residential area with schools etc. nearby
Actually, I think achieving changes in driver behaviour is probably an even more ambitious project than building wide-scale Dutch style infrastructure. Certainly you can become more assiduous in pursuing offenders, and apply tougher sanctions to those you catch, but you can see from the experience of the US how that has its limitations – even in a state which has and habitually exercises the death penalty, there will typically be a higher homicide rate than anywhere in the UK. I am sure there are many reasons for that, one of which is no doubt that the same states tend to have gun laws which permit you to walk into Wal-mart and buy a high velocity rifle without even having to prove you are not under psychiatric care. We can see how little chance there is of that situation changing, and I guess there is equally little chance of Brits having their “weapons” removed from them or controlled.
To achieve such changes we would have to look to the police, but that strikes me as an equally implausible scenario. The Metropolitan Police is a fundamentally corrupt organisation, in so many ways both with small and capital “c”s, and has proved highly resistant to reform over decades, going back to Sir Robert Mark. From my Hampshire copper brother, talking about his job and his colleagues, I have to assume that provincial forces are not so very much better. I reckon that their entire culture, as a form of quasi-military force, creates a stultifying atmosphere where true change, innovation and enterprise have little chance to flourish.
No, only removing the danger at its source, by keeping motorised and non-motorised traffic apart, or denying access to the latter altogether where it has no valid business to be, will have a significant effect.
There is one other factor though which you don’t mention, which is the employment and remuneration practices of the industry which is engaged in moving people and goods for hire and reward. At one time, professional drivers were universally employed on conventional employment terms, that is to say paid a weekly wage for a permanent job, quite possibly with pension entitlements, paid holiday, a 40-hour week and payments for any overtime worked. It strikes me that today that is the exception rather than the norm.
Many if not most minicab and HGV drivers are “self-employed” – in quotes because if their terms of engagement were to be analysed by the courts, under social security or tax legislation, the conclusion would certainly be that they are employed. They have a single employer, who typically provides the tools of trade (dressed up, as in the case of Addison Lee) as a form of leasing or licensing of the vehicle by employer to driver. The are required to work at the times and in the places, and perform the tasks, decided on by their employer, and they don’t have the entitlement to sub-contract their jobs to third persons.
Their pay structure, again with specific reference to Addison Lee but it is commonplace in the haulage and courier business, is to charge fixed rates for the use of the vehicle and then pay per job for the journeys/loads undertaken by the driver. The driver needs therefore to be awarded, and complete, a certain minimum number of trips a day just to break even, and the more trips he undertakes, the more money he takes home. Hardly any surprise therefore that he will ignore speed limits, take risks and cut corners to earn a decent living, especially as the rates are structured to squeeze him like a lemon. It does not excuse his behaviour, but it certainly helps to explain it.
This thoroughly offensive imbalance of rights and power between big business and small guys, a product of three decades of Thatcherism/Blairism, is nowhere more dangerous and corrosive to our entire social fabric than where it involves people who are in a position to do serious personal harm, by accident or design. We don’t have to go all the way back to the Jack Jones/High Scanlon era of trade union power to stop this particular rot, and it seems to me that aside from imaginative use of tarmac and concrete, that is the most critical change we need.
I agree that the structures behind the employment of drivers is a major issue. In my field, architecture and construction, the CDM regulations place enormous pressure on everyone in the construction process – if a construction worker dies on site, whether he’s employed or a self-employed sub-contractor, there’s a responsibility on the client, architect and contractor, and nobody can say that the worker’s H&S is his own responsibility.
In the case of Lopes, somebody kept him in work, despite his appalling record. They are partly culpable, and these employers should be named and shamed in the same way Addison Lee were held to account when their boss made his outrageous comments recently. Also a law similar to CDM (Construction Design & Management) might be the best way to make a start on reducing these cases. But I won’t hold my breath – this is a government which trusts powerful vested interests to self-regulate, and doesn’t have the balls or the will to change anything for the better.
I’m sick of seeing these massive tipper trucks speeding in convoy through London – and when do we ever see them pulled by the Police?
It’s not just the Met that have no interest in these collisions, it’s the Police across the country in my experience.
I was involved in a head on collision with a lorry while cycling home from work a few weeks ago. I was on a minor road approaching a t-junction with a major road. The lorry turned into the minor road and swung out completely onto my side of the road. I moved into the gutter, braked and shouted, but the lorry completely filled both sides of the road. The lorry’s front right wing struck my right shoulder and right thigh, knocking me off my bike and onto the grass verge.
If I hadn’t moved across to the left so quickly the left wing would have been coming from my left and I would quite likely have gone under the front of the lorry. As it happened it was a minor incident, but it could have been very serious.
I was lucky and came away with a few bruises and a grazed knee, no bike damage, just broke the mount for my Garmin. The driver stopped and we exchanged details. I contacted West Midlands Police, and as soon as they established that we’d exchanged details they told me they weren’t interested and there was nothing for them to do.
So a lorry drove straight into a vulnerable road user on the wrong side of the road, and the Police won’t even record the incident. It makes me realise how inaccurate the collision statistics for incidents involving cyclists must be. I’ve been cycling for 7 years, and been hit by a motor vehicle 3 times, in only 1 case did the Police correctly record the incident (and even then they took no action against the driver).
On a more positive note the company who owned the lorry were very good. Apologised, paid for the replacement Garmin mount, gave me a goody bag of their produce and have sent the driver on a retraining and hazard perception course. Very pleased with the response from them.
I wonder if the police will be interested when people are so sick of cyclists & pedestrians being killed by these kind of drivers that some very militant people begin taking the law into their own hands are met out their own justice to these people?
I’m reluctant to suggest this, but if police won’t act, perhaps the “ambulance chasing” industry can help. Even a token insurance claim against driver and vehicle owner should be felt in increased premiums for both. If you’re not interested in compensation, you should do so for the sake of other road users. Other routes are (1) home insurers – these often cover cycling and offer legal services and (2) small claims court which I think you can DIY. IANAL YMMV.
I think you may have a point. From my limited experience of motor fleet insurance policies (my firm’s company car schemes) I gather that they typically have a fairly hefty claims excess – £10k per claim or more. I assume that is partly due to claims experience – if as a company vehicle driver you are not personally carrying the can for loss of NCD after an incident, you tend to be less careful about those minor events – and partly for administrative reasons, as while an individual might make a claim every few years, a fleet manager will be making several claims every year.
And of course the size of the excess will reflect that claims history to some extent – two different employers had quite diverging excesses, presumably because one had more reckless drivers than the other.
Either way, receiving a claim will directly or indirectly impact a company financially, and so you might imagine that an increase in claims experience would eventually make the penny drop – that there is a problem which needs to be addressed.
But that is a steady drip-drip exercise, requiring a lot of stamina. Also, who will pay? I have not had the pleasure of employing any of these claims hotline firms but I imagine that they are pretty selective about the cases they take on, ie they only really want winnable cases and I am sure the record for claims against motor insurers is not very encouraging. If you have to pay for your own action, it will need to be small claims court, where you only have to invest a modest amount to register your claim, and have confidence in knowing that small claims courts do not – cannot – award costs against the losing party. And then your only satisfaction might be that you have forced them to consult their solicitors – and pay their fees, which cannot be awarded back against you – to fight you off.
On a rather larger scale, I do think it would be good if the families of recent high-profile victims, such as Svetlana Tirischenko and Brian Dorling (RIP both) would launch civil actions against TfL for damages due to their negligence in wilfully ignoring safety advice from professional consultants about the dangers to cyclists. I am under no illusions about what a big “ask” that is – their grief and distress must be very great already and a legal process will certainly not make it any less – but I frankly doubt that any form of criminal corporate manslaughter proceedings would ever come to anything, even if the Metplod would get off their a*ses and investigate it properly. A civil claim may be the only way in which TfL (or the ODA in the case of the latest incident) can be brought to public account for its actions.
Re your video. This is a collision in which you were injured, it should be reported to the Police and the details exchanged with the driver – see Section 170 RTA 1988. Many bus drivers actually carry a ‘Section 170’ card to hand over to any person reasonably requiring details of the driver and registered keeper of the vehicle, as this avoids any heated exchanges at the roadside.
How do you know that your truck driver has not had a similar trail of close calls like Lopes, so it does warrant a formal record. On the factory floor the Reporting of Infections Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations ensure that those ponters to a greater hazard, when something falls down or a minor injury happens get logged, and with effective monitoring these will alert all to the potential of a more serious incident. We need RIDDOR on the road.
There is a way to prevent Lopes ever holding another vocational driving licence as the Traffic Commissioner holds powers above those of the Court to ensure that vocational licences (LGV/PCV) are not issued to unsuitable persons. They also control the issue of Operators licences, the people who own or lease the trucks or PCV’s who must prove thay have a suitable regime of maintenance and management overseen by a qualified manager (CPC) with evidence of funds to meet that obligation, AND be ‘of good repute’. The now retired Commissioner Tom Macartney wrote of his concern that he called in and acted on so few cases.
The operator who gave Denis Putz the means to kill Catriona Patel damningly had another of their drivers kill a motorist when the truck collided with a car on the M4 within weeks of Putz being sentenced – and again that truck was being driven by a driver unfit through drink. This and I suspect other reported issues has lead to a noticable change in that company’s diligence in driver training, and recognition of thier duty of care. Clearly we have a way to control the danger delivered by a relatively small number of drivers by making sure they never get provided with the means to kill, and that means tackling the operators. I strongly recommend reading the annual report of the Traffic Commissioners, and reading between the lines at the comments of Tom Macartney and others, especially the concern that delivery of a required 35 hour programme of vocational driver training is not being met, especially by goods vehicle operators. For most bus operators this includes a cyclist – bus module, and for London Buses contractors completion of a TfL produced scheme is a condition of their contract. Yet gaps clearly remain, and the Commissioners often feel they don’t get the support necessary to act effectively against rogue operators, as the parties involved will appeal, and keep on trading whilst the appeal process is drawn out, and then companies will be phoenixed so that an owner banned from holding an O Licence will be in the background as a relative or friend takes over effectively the same operation, and don’t be fooled by the livery – most supermarkets sub contract their delivery system to big logistics companies like Stobart, Malcolm and Kuhne & Nagel, but the construction industry often uses smaller operators operating in livery, and a confusion of who actually is employing the driver concerned. As an example of intensive use, and dramtically raised hazard, the continuous concrete pour at The
Shard required round the clock operation of 30 concrete mixer trucks, and each truck had 3 drivers working shifts to deliver this. With many of the sub contractors relatively small, the in livery fleet would have provided a small nightmare of vetting, and monitoring drivers who could either be existing employees, agency staff and freelance drivers. Such an operation, demanding an uninterrupted feed of a highly perishable product rises the risk of incidents and minor crashes will doubtless happen. The key is in keeping those minor incidents under control and as warning signs to prevent that fatal error.
Matin Porter found this when trying to nail down just who Lopes was working for when he killed Nora Gutmann, and with that failing it seems no surprise that such a driver was so easily allowed to drive and tamper with the tachograph sender unit to falsify his driving hours record. Was he employed by an operator or agency, and supplied by them to another operator who owned the truck, or directly employed by just one of them. All of this making it harder to follow the trail back to the operator responsible for employing Lopes and giving him the truck. How often, in any report do you actually see who owned the truck and who employed the driver (not always the same company). We should demand that the duty of care sticks firmly to the duty holder.
Of course the best practice from a Health and Safety perspective is to remove the hazard, and from observation of past, existing and proposed sites in London it is clear that we could drastically cut the distances and number of truck movements through London’s congested streets, reducing the cost of the damage these trucks cause, reducing the CO2 emissions, noise and other oppressive ‘pollution’, reducing the cost of the haulage, and reducing the exposure of pedestrians and cyclists to the hazard of being hit by a truck. One site (Francis Crick) had over 40 32-Ton 4-axle rigid tippers running around 5000 tons per day (roughly 150 trips) between St Pancras and Pitsea, whenhte site was within 1 Km of railway access which could have shifted that quantity on 2-3 trains per day, or even consider the relatively short distance to the river, where barges of up to 2000Ton capacity can work up to Battersea, and substantial loads used to travel up as far as Brentford Docks and the Gas works – the waste handling plant on Lower Thames Street has a facility to load and usually has a 500T barge alongside, it is hardly used to maximum capacity for waste handling, but may need some work to deliver – still there are other possible locations, with sites downstream set up to process building site spoil and other waste. The Regents Canal can play its part and was used for one site at King’s Cross but the barge size is limited to about 80 Tons and obviously the capacity of the canal to handled dozens of such large barges is limited.
With an eye to making things safer in the future I do call for a focus on Elephant & Castle, where several areas are seeing massive demolition of flats and a leisure complex, and site preparation easily over 300,000 tons of material to process, and most probably move off-site, and concrete pours to match The Shard. There is a rail line directly alongside one of the main sites, and just a few hundred metres from others. With the will and commitment could we see these massive projects moving the massive amounts of material by rail and water rather than making the roads more dangerous?
Thanks for your detailed comment. I should add that the video isn’t mine – it’s HorshamCyclist’s. You can contact him on youtube, via the video.
im furious after watching this, 2 days ago i was travelling on a country road and as i travel this road every day im very cautious of a certain bend in the road. i approached the bend and coming out of it there was a lorry coming the opposite side but his wheels where well over my side of the road (over the white lines) i had to apply my brakes to avoid being crushed between the lorry and hedges along the side of the road. the lorry hit me on the front driver side wing i had my 3 children in the car which terrified me. when i got oiut of my car the driver asked if we are ok and then went to check his lorry he said there is no damage to my lorry so you can carry on! WTF!!!!! he said i was coming too fast around the bend and it was my fault although he was on the wrong side of the road, well i took his details gave him mine whilst my eldest son was on the phone to the police, when i spoke to the poilce they said because we didnt need medical attention they would not come out to us, i wonder if the driver had been drinking? what do the police care though hay? its only a little family who could have been wiped out 😦
Well the driver has complied with Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and you should immediately advise your insurers – no injury has occurred and thus there is no need for the Police to fill in their STATS19 report, which generates the National road casualty figures.
It would appear that had this driver’s behaviour been seen by a Police Officer or recorded on a video camera ther might have been an option to either get the driver warned, or even charged for a driving offence, and being an LGV the tachograph record would be officially checked (your insurer may be able to demand this by way of investigating the crash, and establishing liability (not guilt) for the outcome of the crash. You need to understand the clear difference between guilt and liability and for many this is still a detail they cannot get their heads around.
There is also something called the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) this collects points for the operators of LGV’s and PCV’s for various issues – vehicles which fail roadside checks, drivers who commit offences (speeding, driver’s hours etc) and show up a traffic light rating with the regulator of commercial vehicle use – the Traffic Commissioner.
The UK’s Traffic Commissioners are seriously under resourced for their key role in ‘preventing harm’ from the operation of commercial vehicles on the UK’s roads, and I’d suggest a very short note to the Traffic Area Office once you have your insurer recording the crash and pursuing your claim. The Commissioner also has the ability to view the tachograph records of a driver and check for speeding and other offences being committed. As we see from Lopes, and Putz (20 driving bans, 6 serious driving convictions, and still allowed to hold an HGV licence when he killed Catriona Patel when driving drunk, and using a mobile phone) there are a minority of drivers linked to the majority of crashes – the 80-20 rule is a fair one to observe (80% of adverse events involve 20% of the observed group, in so many situations). So a clear monitoring and effective delivery of management of those holding a vocational licence is needed. The Commissioners can revoke both drivers’ and operators’ licences if either fails the test ‘of good repute’ through their behaviour but can only do this if they get sound and substantial evidence to do this, and the backing of the courts to enforce against the natural resistance (and appeals) from those being banned.
I note in a crash just last week – 2 cyclists were killed by the driver of an articulated lorry on the A30, but that driver was already due to appear in court for a speeding offence, when the crash happened. It was very notable that the truck carried one of the victims for a reported 100 yards before stopping, when the speed it SHOULD have been travelling at was 40mph. There will be a Police investigation but it won’t automatically be published – it should be, or better still a fully impartial investigation which is not used to define guilt and drive a prosecution.
NB some trucks and buses are operated on restricted licences, which allows local operation, and limited types of use the RHA wryly notes that 75% of the truck operators called in for interview have restricted O licences…. perhaps you understand my drift. Some pseudo trucks – weighing up to 32 Tons can be driven on a car licence, without an operators licence, because they are ‘mobile plant’ TfL bosses and the responsible operators are tearing their hair out at this great hole in legislation….Just look for the green, blue, or orange O licence disc next time you encounter a truck.
Lorries are sooo dangerous and seem not to give a damn about other road users. Especially on the motorways. EG they never give way to traffic coming on or off the motorway, overtake without the need to do so without checking whether it’s actually safe to do so or not and then hold everybody else up by taking 2 – 3 miles to complete their overtake. I’ve had so many near misses due to their dangerous driving its untrue. I think they think because they’re in a bigger vehicle than anyone else they’re king of the road and can do WTF they like.
Sorry Sarah, but lorries are never dangerous, unless there is a nut loose behind the steering wheel.
Perhaps if you have actually driven a large truck you will realise that they cannot be thrown around on the road like a mini. You seem confused by the conventions of priority set out in the highway code as well. Traffic joining or leaving the motorway has acceleration/deceleration lanes and drivers are expected to match the speed of the traffic in the nearside lane, of get away in front of it at, without causing the truck drivers (who tend to be the main traffic in the nearside lane) to urgently alter course or direction (the test for dangerous driving).
When your truck is able to travel at a steady 80Kph up and down the hills, it costs time and creates a raised risk to keep trimming your speed as you keep catching up with the truck that can only manage 75Kph against the hills or winds, so it takes a bit longer to get past.
I do worry seriously about your driving, as from your description you are not anticipating the moves of other road users very well if you are always having near misses. As an exercise on the M74 and M6 – when I was driving a Volvo car with a brake light test circuit, I would attempt to drive as far as possible without touching the brakes, from Glasgow Southwards, On several occasions I got all the way to the A66 turn-off, including the 2-lane sections of M74, where trucks frequently filled both lanes as one driver overtook the other. I went on a trip to the Police Driving School at Hendon, when I was learning to drive and the top instructors (Class 1 Traffic Officers) made it abundantly clear that in ANY crash both parties carry some responsibility for causing it. Even when a driver runs into the back of your vehicle with theirs, there is a small but relevant element of your own lack of forethought and rearward observation against the possibility of a following driver failing to stop – especially if you come to a stop at the end of a traffic queue on the motorway always stop well back from the last vehicle in the queue until you are certain that the following driver(s) are going to stop in the distance available.
A huge percentage of those with vocational, licences are conscientious and very safe behind the wheel. As highlighted by some very prominent cases we have what amounts to the 80:20 rule where a small number of drivers are involved in the majority of incidents. There are 2 key ways to address this, first to design out the hazards – conflicting movements, lack of direct vision, lack of the ability to hear – things that you cannot see – engine noise, and warnings, shouts, horns etc, than to monitor and manage, so that when a near miss or driver misbehaviour does happen it is spotted and logged, with the feedback loop calling the driver in to check the risk they present on the road. Lopes killed Eiliidh Carns and then left a trail of crashes, some causing significant damage for a further 3 years before killing again. An effective driver management regime might just have saved one, if not two lives by nailing that man for driving ‘blind’ at a much earlier stage .