Family support adoption of new safety standards

Coun Kate Cairns, Heather Cairns, Ian Swithenbank and Anne Dale next to a rear-mounted safety camera.
Coun Kate Cairns, Heather Cairns, Ian Swithenbank and Anne Dale next to a rear-mounted safety camera.

The family of a woman who was killed after being hit by a truck has welcomed the adoption of new safety standards to reduce the risk of collisions between HGVs and vulnerable road users.

Eilidh Cairns, 30, from Ellingham, was struck while she was cycling through London in 2009. The driver said he hadn’t seen her.

Following the fatal incident, her mother, Coun Heather Cairns, and sister, Coun Kate Cairns, launched the See Me Save Me appeal. The campaign is dedicated to reducing lorry danger, including eliminating blindspots, and saving lives.

In Northumberland, between 2011 and 2016, 33 per cent of cyclist fatalities involved HGVs.

And now, Northumberland County Council has adopted two new national safety standards which aim to reduce the risk of collisions between HGVs and cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.

The first is Construction Logistics and Community Safety, which brings the construction logistics industry together to manage risk on the roads and embed a culture of road safety across the industry.

The second is the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme; an industry-led accreditation scheme designed to help road-freight operators improve operational performance and safety.

The safety standards have been put in place to help companies improve driver skills and competence and follow good practice in the management of their vehicles and operations.

One of the requirements of achieving the accreditations is the attendance at a Safe Urban Driving course.

Other requirements include the fitting of adaptations to eliminate vehicle blind spots.

Sister Kate said: “It has been fantastic to work with the county council and I welcome the council’s commitment in taking positive action to manage risk on the road to protect our people and communities. I hope that others will follow this lead.”

Heather added: “Time after time, just like in Eilidh’s case, drivers say they didn’t see the victim. We must give drivers the tools and training to do their job safely.”

County councillor Anne Dale said: “While the council cannot enforce the implementation of these standards for all HGVs that travel through Northumberland, we will promote and encourage adoption of the standards by other operators, for example to local farmers through the NFU.

“We will be requiring improved standards through planning permission where projects require significant HGV movements and we will let it be known, through our tendering processes, that we are keen to work with safety-accredited companies.”