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Here's the Story: 44 Tonne Trucks

3rd November 2003

Robin Webb's daughter Elizabeth was killed by a lorry in 1999 while riding her bike. She was 21 and was studying to be a nurse.

Robin made "44 tonne trucks and towns don't mix" to raise the issue of the danger these vehicles pose in built up areas.

"I wanted to do what I could to alert people to the danger of these heavy trucks," Robin says of making this film, "to reduce the deaths and injuries they cause."

According to PC Paul Wood of the Metropolitan Police, the most common accident involving cyclists and lorries is when a cyclist is in the "dead spot" of a lorry-driver's vision, on the opposite side of the cab to them.

Margaret Cooper, Traffic Manager of Tower Hamlets, agrees that there "should be more mirrors" on these vehicles to reduce the size of this blind spot. Trucks of this size have difficulty manoeuvring themselves through cities, especially when having to make sharp turns left. London is a particular problem for truck manoeuvrability due to the narrow, medieval roads that dominate the centre.

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But Robin asks is this enough? Lorries also have side protection bars to protect vehicles from their enormous wheels, but, as this film point out, they are too high to protect pedestrians and cyclists who have been knocked to the ground.

In 1962, Robin says the maximum weight of a truck travelling through urban areas was 23 tonnes. This limit has risen to 44 tonnes today as part of the movement from rail to road transporting of goods.

Some European countries have a ban in urban centres of lorries heavier than seven and a half tonnes and companies have had to resort to convoys of trucks of this size to carry the same amount of goods. These smaller lorries have much better visibility and are therefore much safer.

Robin ends up asking why we can't pass similar laws to stop future tragedies like his from occurring?

Organisations

Sustrans
The sustainable transport charity.
National Cycle Strategy
Aims to increase the use of bikes for all types of journeys and for all age groups.
London Cycling Campaign
Campaigning to make London a world class cycling city.

Follow the links to view similar stories:
Environment/Regeneration, Transport

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