A campaigner has spoken of her pride that a new road safety law is set to be introduced in 29 countries, including the United Kingdom, which will see heavy-goods vehicles designed with larger windows to reduce the size of blind spots and improve visibility of vulnerable road users such as cyclists.
Kate Cairns told ITV of her campaigning journey, which began in 2009 when her sister Eilidh was killed while cycling to work in London after being hit by the driver of an HGV. The incident, reported on road.cc at the time, happened on 5 February as the TV producer cycled to work.
A coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, the driver Joao Lopes pleading guilty to a charge of driving with defective vision and receiving three penalty points and a £200 fine. Incidentally, he was jailed in 2012 after causing the death of a 97-year-old pedestrian while behind the wheel of another HGV.
Since the fatal collision 14 years ago, Eilidh's family has been urging the government to take action to improve safety for cyclists around large vehicles through their See Me Save Me campaign.
Now, with the law change requiring new HGV designs to meet Direct Vision Standard (DVS) from 2026 and all HGVs from 2029 set to be implemented, Eilidh's sister Kate says she is "proud to think that in her name hundreds, if not thousands, of lives will be saved".
The rule change will see lorry cabs designed with larger windows, improving visibility of vulnerable road users and reducing blind spots.
"It's a huge achievement done in Eilidh's name because she was such an amazing person," Kate continued. "I had such love for her. It was so unacceptable and tragic that the world lose a person like her who had so much to give.
"That's what drove my tenacity to continue. It's because of what a wonderful person Eilidh was. I am proud to think that in her name hundreds, if not thousands, of lives will be saved with this new regulation."
Working as a civil engineer, Kate reported being "astounded" by the number of deaths caused by construction industry vehicles being driven on UK roads.
"On-site we have huge safety regulations and measures," she said. "Beyond the site boundary, we are grossly disproportionate in killing cyclists and pedestrians so I felt I was well-placed as a professional to be able to create change within my industry. The main issue being — one of the main issues being — the huge blind spots around vehicles.
"This has affected my professional life as well as my personal life. I have campaigned for over a decade but now I am actually a professional speaker, a trainer and advisor in construction logistics and managing out this risk because these are not accidents. They are crashes. They are avoidable and they are preventable. There are many many ways we can avoid these collisions.
"People who come on my training say their eyes are opened; they feel empowered; they feel educated; they know how to implement changes. This is part of my profession now."
In 2019, we reported the shocking news that a woman speaking out against a cycleway on the route where Eilidh was killed was falsely claiming to be the cyclist's aunt.
[Notting Hill Gate with Eilidh Cairns' ghost bike on the central reservation]
At the time, Kate said the woman had told a meeting at Kensington & Chelsea Town Hall that Eilidh would have opposed the scheme, but that no such relative exists.
As per the Department for Transport's casualty statistics for 2021, the most recent year available, 40 per cent (543) of the 1,353 reported cyclist casualties involving a collision with an HGV being driven on Britain's roads resulted in the rider being killed or seriously injured.
Six per cent of reported collisions involving a cyclist and the driver of a heavy goods vehicle resulted in a fatality, far higher than the 0.4 per cent of collisions involving the driver of a car.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.