Euro MPs Back Kings Heath Mum’s Call For Safer Lorries

A campaign by a Birmingham Mum to change European law to make lorries safer took a big step forward when a committee of MEPs voted to back tougher design standards for a new generation of Heavy Goods Vechciles.

Nazan Fennell’s ‘Live in Hope’ campaign has been taken up by Birmingham MEP Phil Bennion, Lib Dem transport spokesman in Brussels, with similar proposals backed by former Olympic cycling champion Chris Boardman and a growing alliance of road safety campaigners across the UK.

hope-fennell
Pictured: Hope Fennell

Nazan’s 13-year-old daughter Hope was killed by a lorry in Kings Heath in 2011 as she pushed her bike across the road. A coroner ruled that the driver could not have seen her due to blind spots from the cab of the 18 tonne vehicle.

Under changes being proposed by Phil Bennion MEP, lorry drivers’ sight-lines would be improved by reducing blind spots under the front windscreen and the side of lorry cabs. The new designs would also include safer cab fronts to reduce the damage caused by impacts with cyclists and pedestrians and other road vehicles.

The proposals are also backed by Rugby-based cement manufacturer Cemex UK, which provided lorries fitted with experimental larger mirrors and sensors for a campaign rally in Brussels last month with Chris Boardman to lobby MEPs.

A report outlining the proposed changes in lorry design standards was backed by a majority of MEPs on the Transport Committee in Brussels today.

Conservative MEPs Jacqueline Foster and Philip Bradbourn abstained on the final vote, while former UKIP MEP Mike Natrass voted against.

Phil Bennion commented: “Lorries do not have to be the slab-sided bricks we see on the roads today. As well as being un-aerodynamic, there are massive blind spots for drivers all the way around these vehicles.

A ghost bike on Kings Heath High St in memory of Hope
A ghost bike on Kings Heath High St in memory of Hope

“Nazan’s daughter Hope is one of all too many people killed on British roads in incidents with lorries where drivers cannot see them. More than half of all cycling fatalities on Britain’s roads are caused by collisions of this kind. So many of these tragic deaths can be prevented.

“I am proposing small but significant changes to lorry design standards which will save lives by getting rid of dangerous blind spots and reducing the impact damage caused by collisions.

“I am glad to see that these changes were approved by the Committee today after months of campaigning.

“However it’s a shame that Conservative MEPs did not give these proposals their full backing. I will now be putting pressure on them to change their minds so we can reach a consensus before the final vote of the full Parliament in Strasbourg next month.”

The proposed measures are set to be voted on by all MEPs in the European Parliament at its final plenary session in Strasbourg on the 13th April. The legislation will then be finalised in negotiations with EU national governments in the Council following the European elections in May.

Every year lorry crashes cause 4200 road deaths in Europe, many of which are pedestrians and cyclists in cities. The Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show that cyclist deaths in the UK rose 10% during 2012 to 118, with serious injuries rising to 3,222. 63 pedestrians were killed in collisions involving heavy goods vehicles and 128 were seriously injured.