The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced an update to its HGV driver training programme.
Questions have been added in the theory test to cover the correct use of Class VI mirrors and the DVSA recommend that Safe Urban Driving and Vulnerable Road User Awareness courses be undertaken by all drivers as part of their CPC training.
According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), VRUs are defined as road users who are particularly vulnerable due to their lack of physical protection, inexperience, or unpredictable behaviour. They include cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders, motorcyclists and mobility scooter users.
The RHA’s checklist for good practice on managing risk includes:
• blind spots
• the importance of the driver’s daily walk-around check
• unpredictable VRU behaviour, sudden changes in road conditions
• poor visibility
• reporting danger spots and near misses
• briefing agency, casual and temporary drivers on the fleet’s safety policies
The DVSA decision was in response to a call for action from a senior coroner in Norfolk, following an inquest into the death of an 82-year-old man. Dudley Howe was hit by a lorry which crept forward as he walked through stationary, queuing traffic. The driver was cleared of causing death by careless driving. However, Norwich Crown Court heard the lorry’s mirrors had not been properly adjusted, meaning Mr Howe could not have been seen from the vehicle’s cab. The jury subsequently sent a note to the judge recommending that laws on the use of mirrors by lorry drivers be toughened. It asked that lorry drivers ensure they have mirrors fitted to show a view of the whole front of the cab, and for it to be made a criminal offence to not do so.
The coroner’s letter to the DVSA stated: “During the course of the inquest, the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.”
Nick Caesari, CEO of driver training supplier Fleet Source said: “Post lockdown, commuters will be looking for alternatives to public transport and we are all being encouraged to walk or cycle where we can. There has never been a more important time to ensure that commercial drivers are equipped with the awareness and skills to identify and predict hazards and hazardous situations in relation to vulnerable road users.”