Campaign has been a success, but more to do

Former MEP Fiona Hall and Kate Cairns in Brussels.
Former MEP Fiona Hall and Kate Cairns in Brussels.

A mother who launched a road-safety campaign after her beloved sister was run down from behind and killed by a lorry has said she has achieved significant success, but is still striving for zero deaths from HGV collisions.

This is the determined message from Kate Cairns, from Newton-by-the-Sea, as last Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the death of her sibling, Eilidh, from Ellingham.

Eilidh Cairns.

Eilidh Cairns.

The 30-year-old was killed as she cycled to work through Notting Hill Gate in London on February 5, 2009. Experienced cyclist Eilidh was hit from behind and crushed by a tipper truck on a straight, two-lane section of road. The driver said he didn’t see her.

The tragedy compelled Kate to launch the See Me Save Me campaign in February 2010, to tackle the issue of blindspots in HGVs.

With the campaign now into its sixth year, Kate acknowledges that the initiative has achieved a great deal, but her fight for safer roads continues.

She said: “I still feel acutely the bitter and hopeless loss of Eilidh and the chasm in our lives left behind. This does not diminish. We just learn how to better carry it.

“Other families will be spared this heartbreak and other active lives will be saved if we continue to challenge and to fight for change.

“I don’t want any more HGV drivers to have a normal day go drastically wrong and end up with a person under the wheels of their truck. They must be given the tools and the training to do their job safely, wherever they travel.”

Kate and the See Me Save Me campaign have had a key role in setting up the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety Standard (CLOCS).

CLOCS brings the construction logistics industry together to revolutionise the management of work-related road risk and ensure a road-safety culture is embedded across the industry.

More than 200 major national construction companies have signed up to CLOCS, a huge achievement for a voluntary safety standard.

See Me Save Me is now pushing to embed CLOCS in procurement specifications and planning conditions across the rest of the UK by working with local councils as well as construction companies.

The first inclusion of CLOCS in a planning consent outside London was by Northumberland County Council last year, after Kate made planners aware of the scheme.

The mother-of-three said: “CLOCS is a major step forward in ending collisions between HGVs and cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, in towns and villages as well as cities. “These crashes can be eliminated and we will not stop fighting until our roads are safer for everyone.”

As the county councillor for Longhoughton, Kate often hears from concerned residents about the danger from HGVs in rural areas.

She said: “The problem is not just in London, or cities, this is an issue in villages and on rural roads. In north Northumberland, we have increasing construction and quarry traffic at the same time as we are promoting cycling and tourism. CLOCS is the accepted industry way to reduce danger from HGVs and improve safety on all roads.”

The campaign helped secure a vote in the European Parliament in 2014 on proposals which would see lorry cabs redesigned to improve drivers’ visibility. A large majority of MEPs voted in favour.

European lawmakers agreed for cabs to be redesigned on a voluntary not mandatory basis. The changes will be brought in in 2022.

In September, the Mayor of London responded to campaigners by introducing the London Safer Lorry Scheme, banning lorries not meeting safety technology criteria.

The campaign has also been quoted in the Houses of Parliament during debates on cycle safety.

Visit www.seemesaveme.org