Northumberland campaigner celebrates success decade on from death of sister

A Northumberland campaigner is celebrating the success of a pioneering standard that is saving lives.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 9:01 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 10:01 am
Kate Cairns campaigns for HGV safety improvements.

Kate Cairns founded the See Me Save Me campaign following the death of her sister, Eilidh Cairns, who was run down from behind by a fully laden tipper lorry in London in 2009 when she was 30. The driver said he did not see her.

The objective of See Me Save Me is to challenge industry, policymakers and the justice system to eliminate deaths by HGVs.

Kate has indeed challenged on all three counts.

Walsh LED fleet. Picture: Tideway

She successfully campaigned to change legislation and policy at European, national and regional level. She led the call for direct vision lorries at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2010, lobbying with friends and family of Eilidh alongside MEP Fiona Hall for mandatory cameras and sensors.

Further lobbying followed in Brussels in 2011, with Transport for London (TfL) for amendment to European Directive 96/53 to improve direct visibility of HGV cabs.

This change set the scene for TfL to develop the London Mayor’s Direct Vision Standard (DVS), in consultation with See Me Save Me, other campaign groups, the freight industry and fleet operators.

The pioneering standard, launched by the London Mayor in March, has delivered a radical improvement to road safety in the capital. Three months on data shows that the vital scheme which reduces lethal blind spots is already helping save lives and prevent life-changing injuries.

HGVs are rated between zero and five star as part of the Direct Vision Standard.

The standard incorporates both direct and indirect vision measures called for by Kate. 4,000 of the 136,000 safety permits have been issued to vehicles incorporating the new cab design which gives the highest level of direct vision; and nearly 70,000 vehicles have been fitted cameras and sensors to improve indirect vision.

Kate said: “The success of the DVS shows how tenacity, courage to challenge, and willingness to collaborate can change culture. We remember the thousands of lives lost since the death of Eilidh over this decade of change.

"Whilst this is great news for the capital, we must consider where those lorries which are no longer permitted in London will be deployed. To ensure safe lorries are ubiquitous we need to embed equivalent standards, policy and best practice across the UK."

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Major breakthrough in 10-year campaign
Kate Cairns.

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