A tanker company has taken firm action after one of its drivers close passed a cyclist in a busy town, forcing the rider to brake heavily to avoid a collision.
Cyclist Martin was riding to work on Monday 14 November, on the A644 Huddersfield Road approaching Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, when he was overtaken by the driver of a Suttons tanker.
However, as you can see in the above clip, the driver – who, it later transpired, was on his final written warning from the company – appeared to be unaware that another motorist up ahead was preparing to turn right, forcing him to swerve sharply back into the path of the cyclist.
Martin, who spent nine months recovering from a collision with a motorist a few years ago, told road.cc: “Once I realised the length and size of the vehicle passing me, I slammed on my brakes and narrowly avoided getting hit by the back-end of the truck.”
After submitting footage of the incident to West Yorkshire Police’s Op Snap – and receiving what he calls the “usual response” (thanking him for his submission and informing him that enquiries were ongoing) – Martin contacted Suttons itself and sent them the clip.
“I laughed that Suttons’ company branding is all about safety, and even as the tanker passed me on the video there's a big cyclist safety warning on the side of it. I contacted the company for comment, not really expecting anything,” the cyclist says.
In fact, Suttons’ head of compliance Tony Greenhalgh got back immediately to Martin, thanking him for bringing the matter to the company’s attention and reassuring the cyclist that it would be taken “very seriously”.
In the email, seen by road.cc, Greenhalgh assured Martin that a full internal investigation was underway and that the clip would be used both for assessing the employee’s driving standards and for anonymous training for other drivers. The incident was also reported by Suttons to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Tim Blackmore, the Traffic Commissioner for the North East of England.
In a later email, Greenhalgh revealed that the driver was issued with a formal Notice of Intended Prosecution by the police and that he had resigned from his role before formal action could be taken by the company.
“Irresponsible driving can’t be excused or ignored”
“Personally I’m disappointed that one driver has had impact on our image in the public domain,” Greenhalgh said in the email. “I’m thankful that no one was hurt this time – we will use this footage in our training programme and issue a safety flash to all drivers.
“This driver was on his final written warning, irresponsible driving can’t be excused or ignored. Professional HGV drivers have training on how to spot obstacles well in advance. All our drivers receive Smith Defensive driving training.”
After pointing out that “significant changes to the road network is needed to encourage more cyclists”, Greenhalgh added: “I’m proud of the vast majority of our drivers, most of whom have been with us for well over 20 years and are exceptional – but it only takes one or two bad ones to cause significant damage to a company’s brand.”
Describing the in-depth response from Suttons as “unexpected”, Martin told road.cc: “It's nice to see a company taking responsibility for road safety and striving to educate and train their drivers in safe driving practices.
“It’s a shame the driver lost their job, but it sounds like he wasn’t up to Suttons high standards anyway.
“So good on Suttons, and to Tony Greenhalgh. He’s given me faith that people are listening and trying to actively improve road safety for all users, and especially cyclists.”
Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we’ve decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.
If you’ve caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you’d like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.
If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).
Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.