Thursday, 27 May 2010

The dangerous lorry farce

Remember the amazing YouTube video of the tanker lorry shunting a Renault at speed down a motorway? The driver didn’t realise he had a car wedged just below his steering wheel.

The driver appeared before North West Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell who was told police had concluded Mrs Williams had pulled out in front of him from the left. Tests had confirmed he could not have seen or heard the car wedged in front of his cab, and the hearing praised his actions after being alerted by the other motorist.

Exonerating him, Miss Bell concluded: 'You showed, in my view, coolness and a clear head. 'I feel it is entirely inappropriate for me to take away your licence. 'You, your employers and the haulage industry should be able to hold your heads up high after this incident.'

Leaving aside the fawning sycophancy of Ms. Bell, there’s one technical detail which the mainstream press has not reported:

Traffic commissioner Beverley Bell is urging operators of trucks that do not have downward facing mirrors to get them retrofitted.

Bell says that, if the truck had been fitted with one such mirror, Tomlinson would have seen the car at the front of his vehicle.

"I would strongly recommend that the drivers in the industry get mirrors fitted so that they do not fall into the same trap [as Tomlinson]," she states.

Evidently this tanker had a blind spot. But it’s entirely at the whim of the lorry operator whether or not to bother fitting a downward facing mirror. In this case a major road haulage firm wasn’t prepared to spend the money. And a tanker driver who can’t see a car wedged under his bonnet is not going to be able to see at close quarters a pedestrian or a cyclist. But what is human life compared to the profits of the road haulage industry?