With steep the rise in the number of cyclists and heavy goods vehicles on the road in recent years, driving your HGV safely with complete awareness is become more challenging. There have been many high-profile accidents in the news, some with fatalities, where drivers have failed to see the cyclist.
With the £2 Billion government push to get more people cycling and walking, changes needed to be made. Therefore, the Department of Transport has updated the highway code, specifically designed to protect cyclists on the roads. While cyclists can sometimes prove to be an unpredictable obstacle to us as HGV drivers, the measures being put in place are there to help us keep ourselves and others on the roads safe and free from harm.
The five main changes of note are as follows:
Position themselves in the center of the road
Cyclists have been told to stick to the center of the road, away from curbs and possible potholes on the roadsides. The center of the road is the safest place for them to be, making them easy to spot, and harder for reckless drivers to overtake if they don’t have the room. As ever, cyclists are asked to move to the side of the road to allow for safe overtaking but are then asked to resume their position in the center of the road for their own safety.
Cyclists should ride two abreast – but merge into a single file line when a driver is trying to overtake
Riding two abreast is the safest way to cycle in groups, especially when cycling with young children or less skilled cyclists. This gives the cyclists a chance to keep each other safe as a group and makes spotting them easier for drivers. However, when a driver is trying to overtake, the cyclists must form a single file line before returning to their side-by-side position.
Drivers should give 5ft when overtaking a cyclist
Drivers must always be conscious of space when overtaking a cyclist. The same general common-sense rules apply; to not overtake in a bend and to slow down while overtaking. However, now all drivers are asked to maintain a 5ft distance between their vehicle and the cyclist they are overtaking. This is especially important for HGV drivers, as the sheer size of the lorries are so vast, it is easy to misjudge distances. Drivers are to remain cautious when overtaking.
Cyclists have priority when going straight ahead at junctions
A prominent change to note is that cyclists now have priority when going straight ahead at junctions. Drivers are urged to remain cautious.
Cyclists either side of the vehicle have priority when cars are turning
Cyclists now also have priority when they are placed on either side of a vehicle and the vehicle is turning. Drivers must give way to cyclists in this situation.
Our Safe Urban Driving course will put this subject into perspective and help HGV drivers learn and adhere to these, somewhat annoying, new rules. Our SUD course is essential for all HGV drivers that frequent urban roads often populated with vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. We are Driver CPC accredited and fully aligned to meet all requirements necessary to teach this course. For more information on our Safe Urban Driving course, please visit our website.
At JCS transport, we are committed to helping all out drivers stay safe and informed when on the road, to keep themselves and others safe. There have been other changes made to the highway code which can be found here.