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Inflatable 'lorry skirt' rolling out to prevent cyclists being dragged under lorries

An inflatable skirt to prevent cyclists being dragged under lorries is being introduced in London, while a Cambridge firm upgrades its fleet

An inflatable skirt that guards the area between wheels under heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in a bid to protect pedestrians and cyclists is being adopted by a London construction company.

Meanwhile, in Cambridge a building services firm are upgrading their fleet of vehicles with cycle-friendly lorries that offer drivers a 90% increase in visibility.

The DawesGuard inflatable lorry skirt, though, has begun rolling out in London under consttruction firm Keltbray Ltd's fleet of tipper trucks.

DawesGuard inventor, and founder of Dawes Highway, James Dawes, is a former MET traffic officer who was called onto the scene of dozens of incidents involving HGVs and cyclists throughout his 15-year career.

The device itself features both an inflatable barrier that stretches to the ground when inflated, and a shatter-proof plastic panel with a large warning sign alerting nearby cyclists and pedestrians to the danger of being dragged underneath.

DawesGuard close up- image via daweshighway.com website.jpg

The £3,000 DawesGuard device can be activated from the cab via a control panel and has been designed with inner-city use in mind.

The target area is, of course, central London where there have been 5 cyclist deaths in 2016 according to cycling-intelligence.com, three of which came in the month of May alone.

A career of witnessing accidents like those in London in May was what encouraged Mr Dawes to develop DawesGuard. His dream is to prevent the victims - as well as their loved ones, and witnesses - from experiencing the terrible consequences of these incidents.

Dawes's statement to the Evening Standard.

“As a motorcycle policeman I regularly attended accidents between cyclists and large vehicles.

"After realising the most severe injuries were sustained when a person was dragged beneath a vehicle’s wheels I simply had to do everything I could to stop the risk of such harm.

“I will never forget the terrible effect serious accidents have on the witnesses and families of people involved in collisions.

"I gave up my 15-year career in the Met to found Dawes Highway Safety and set about developing a concept that I hoped would one day save the life of somebody’s mum, dad or child.”

The future is looking bright for the DawesGuard as the device has already been adopted by London construction company Keltbray, and was nominated for an innovation prize at the Motor Transport Awards this week.

Keltbray has already begun equipping its tipper truck fleet with the devices, and their head of haulage is hopeful that the device will help reduce the number of road user injuries on the city's streets.

He said: "We trialled the Dawes-Guard and believe it will prevent vulnerable road users getting trapped under the nearside of one of our vehicles.  The retractable mechanism is easy to operate for our drivers."

Meanwhile, another construction company - this time in Cambridge - is updating its fleet of HGVs in a bid to make the roads more cycle-friendly.

Huntingdon company, Mick George, has invested in Mercedes Benz's Econic range of vehicles which, amongst other safety features, offer the driver full-height glass doors and a wider field of view through the windscreen to reduce blind spots and increase the likelihood of seeing nearby cyclists.

>Construction firm Tarmac trials safer cement mixer lorry

Tarmac safer lorry
Construction firm Tarmac's Mercedes Benz Econic lorry

Speaking to Cambridge News, the firm's transport manager Joe Gossage, said that safety was "of utmost importance" to the company. 

“The safety of our staff, communities, clients, contractors and the people we work alongside is of utmost importance at Mick George," Gossage said.

“Our new range of city safety vehicles complement our existing fleet of vehicles and allows us to be a lot more targeted and efficient in our approach to safety for specific areas."

The London Cycling Campaign's (LCC) Tom Bogdanowicz told road.cc: "LCC looks forward to the full report on initial testing of the Dawes protective device by Keltbray. While the prime area of collisions between cyclists and lorries is just in front of and to the front left side of the lorry protection from a side impact can be helpful and the Dawes skirt seeks to provide additional protection in this area.

"What LCC would like to see is fewer collisions between lorries and cyclists, in the first place, which is why we are campaigning to make vehicles with much better direct vision and fewer blind spots, like the Mercedes Econic and Dennis Eagle Elite, to become the London norm."

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15 comments

Avatar
The _Kaner | 7 years ago
0 likes

If you're knocked off and under the front wheels it's not much use.

As others have mentioned - Driver training/awareness and/or sensors are a much better 'solution' than a possible 'stop gap technology' added on that a forgetful operator might not activate...or better infrastructure overall and/or segregation required.

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Trick Biker | 7 years ago
0 likes

Just got to say I agree with many of the other biker comments - what a waste of columb inches discussing in my mind a potentially dangerious piece of poorly designed engineering pipe dream (by the way no Chartered Institute of Mech Engineering designer I checked their website an ex policeman and a OND qualifed technician).

No matter how much training you give a tipper lorry driver about how to manually from the cab raise and lower the device - it's just destined for operator error. Tipper lorry tyres are always blowing out and shredding due to their work enviroment - is the inflatable barrier up to dealing with that?

Why not use cheap but effective side sensors - use technology to help solve the problem not over cumbersome difficult to safely operate 1950's solutions.

Looks like the company trialling the apperatus is trying to impress the local London authority -a feather in thier cap making them look so cycle friendly.

Appologies for my harsh comments but I come on guys - think about proper solutions to the ever increasing problem of cycling fatalities.

 

Avatar
severs1966 | 7 years ago
0 likes

"cycle-friendly lorries"

Am I alone in seeing this as a complete fiction?

This product may prevent some riders being crushed to death in the way that has been seen here:

atgni wrote:

All good, well done Keltbray - hopefully we won't see this again http://www.standard.co.uk/news/cyclist-hurt-in-collision-with-lorry-owne...

But that doesn't make the lorry "cycle friendly".

If you were swinging a cricket bat around in public, with five 6" nails sticking out of it, then pushing corks over the end of the nails wouldn't make it a "cranium-friendly" cricked bat.

This product is the cork on a nail, if the analogy was not clear enough.

The real solution is to get the lorries away from the bikes, so lorry drivers can't run bike riders over in the first place. I expect the first person to be smashed into by a huge yellow plate with a "take extra care near this vehice" caption will appreciate the irony. Hopefully its purpose will mean that they remain alive to do so, as they remain supine on the ground next to the kerb watching the lorry leave the scene and hoping that the vehicle behind doesn't run them over.

Avatar
WillRod | 7 years ago
2 likes

What I don't understand, is why they don't put a fairing over the non-steering wheels on vehicles.

It would increase fuel efficiency and reduce the chances of being dragged under the lorry. It would make tyre changes harder, but I am sure they could find a way to make it easily removable. It could also apply to cars. The only other issue is heat build up in the brakes, but a well placed vent could deal with that.

Avatar
Dawes Highway Safety replied to WillRod | 7 years ago
0 likes
WillRod wrote:

What I don't understand, is why they don't put a fairing over the non-steering wheels on vehicles.

It would increase fuel efficiency and reduce the chances of being dragged under the lorry. It would make tyre changes harder, but I am sure they could find a way to make it easily removable. It could also apply to cars. The only other issue is heat build up in the brakes, but a well placed vent could deal with that.

 

Hi WillRod,

During our extensive R&D we looked closely at the possibility of covering the wheels but alas strict guidelines on 'construction and use' do not allow additional widening of a vehicle. Furthermore the additional width itself could also pose a hazard to VRUs.

You also correctly identify the heat build up issue, the stopping & starting of an HGV in slow traffic (with no productive airflow) can cause significant amounts of friction heat build up that could be detrimental to a vehicle's safe operation.

Then there is the off-site issue, the vehicles that regenerate our inner city areas and supply aggregates to urban building sites occasionally have to go over surfaces that would not allow a fixed guard...which is why DawesGuard can be retracted for those few circumstances.

Thankyou for your comments

Warm regards

The Dawes Highway Safety team

Avatar
CXR94Di2 | 7 years ago
1 like

Ideal for sweeping accidents under the carpet, muffling the cries of being crushed

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fixit | 7 years ago
1 like

just a new pile of crap invention!!! wtf is this!!?? Are the people designed this still on institute mechanical engineers or hopefully they are kick/baned!!??

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atgni | 7 years ago
0 likes

All good, well done Keltbray - hopefully we won't see this again http://www.standard.co.uk/news/cyclist-hurt-in-collision-with-lorry-owne...

PS Tarmac's new wagon needs one too.

Avatar
Gus T | 7 years ago
2 likes

And is there a similar warning inside the cab saying "Driver -  look out for cyclists & pedestrians"? or is it just victim blaming again

 

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ianrobo | 7 years ago
2 likes

seems  very positive from companies 

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jasecd replied to ianrobo | 7 years ago
2 likes
ianrobo wrote:

seems  very positive from companies 

 

It seems positive from these companies, but they're a small fraction of those that operate in towns and cities across the country.

The vast majority of construction firms still seem to believe that a yellow sticker on the back of the truck negates them of any responsiblity  to actually drive with care.

These skirts are a nice visibile, marketing friendly addition but driver training and behaviour is still the issue.

 

Avatar
brooksby | 7 years ago
0 likes
Quote:

...can be activated from the cab...

So, not active all the time, and reliant on the driver switching it on: why's that, then?

Avatar
CygnusX1 replied to brooksby | 7 years ago
2 likes
brooksby wrote:
Quote:

...can be activated from the cab...

So, not active all the time, and reliant on the driver switching it on: why's that, then?

To retract it for off road use on building sites , according to the manufacturer.

Avatar
brooksby replied to CygnusX1 | 7 years ago
0 likes
CygnusX1 wrote:
brooksby wrote:
Quote:

...can be activated from the cab...

So, not active all the time, and reliant on the driver switching it on: why's that, then?

To retract it for off road use on building sites , according to the manufacturer.

Fair enough, but it does mean that the driver has to remember to turn it on...

Avatar
Dawes Highway Safety replied to brooksby | 7 years ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:
Quote:

...can be activated from the cab...

So, not active all the time, and reliant on the driver switching it on: why's that, then?

 

Hi all,

As keen 'daily urban cyclists' ourselves we'd very much like to take the time to offer some clarity to the article.

The guard is down (ie. deployed) all the time while on any road. It forms a completely solid permanent barrier across the most dangerous part of the vehicle for if/when the worst happens. If a person does end up on the floor alongside a vehicle the system physically prevents them entering the path of the wheels or the path of those wheels going over a person-left turn scenario.

It ONLY gets retracted when the lorry is in an off road environment. The button inside the cab has a high visibility warning light to remind the driver to re-deploy it. Training on the use of the system is given to all drivers and site staff including foremen/site entrance controllers to ensure it is always deployed when a vehicle goes back onto the public road.

Happy cycling  1

The Dawes Highway Safety Team

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