MEPs vote to tame HGVs

The family of a cyclist killed by a HGV driver has succeeded at getting European Commission to review HGV safety laws.
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The family of Eilidh Cairns had taken their HGV safety campaign to the European Commission, hoping to get MEPs to vote for a review of safety laws concerning HGVs and vulnerable road users.

Eilidh Cairns, a TV producer from Northumberland, was killed while cycling in London in 2009. The tipper truck driver who killed Ms Cairns said he hadn't seen her: he later failed a vision test (but, now wearing spectacles, is now back driving). Police experts believe the driver hit Ms Cairns from behind and dragged her beneath his truck. He was fined £150 and 3 points docked from his driving licence.

After a long-running campaign for improving visibility measures on HGVs, Ms Cairns' family went to Strasbourg on Monday to see how MEPs would vote on a proposal to force a safety review to protect cyclists in Europe. On Wednesday night, the bill was passed meaning the European Commission must now come forward with proposals designed at improving cyclist safety.

Working with North East Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona Hall, the Cairns family campaigned for HGVs to be fitted cameras and sensors to remove HGV blind spots. To secure a review at least half of the total number of MEPs had to sign the proposal.

Cyclists across Europe were urged to write to their MEPs urging support for the proposal. Over 400 MEPs had signed the proposal by Wednesday night, allowing it to progress.

The European Commission must now come up with proposals based on the declaration to put before the European parliament and then the Council of Ministers.

Eilidh Cairns's sister Kate, said: “I hope that Eilidh’s legacy will be to save the lives of vulnerable road users right across Europe through the creation of safer roads.

“I want to thank every individual who has responded to our plea for assistance. Their action has brought about this result.

“The reckless stupidity of having huge lorries share road space with pedestrians and cyclists without the simple and inexpensive warning systems available must now end.”

Written declarations rarely get enough support to be considered by the Commission.

Fiona Hall MEP told The Journal newspaper: “This is fantastic news. Persuading so many MEPs to back a campaign is no easy feat and it would not have been possible without the dedication of so many committed volunteers.

“We have the opportunity to save thousands of lives and prevent many serious injuries each year. The European Commission are now obliged to come forward with proposals in response to the Parliament. I am meeting with the Commission officials next week and will be pressing for changes to be forthcoming as soon as possible.”

In a press release issued by Kate Cairns shortly after her younger sister's death, she said:

“Eilidh was a proud, dedicated, experienced and savvy cyclist. She rode this same route every day for three years. 

“Eilidh’s crash was not typical. Both she and the lorry were travelling the same direction, in accelerating but slow moving traffic, on a one-way road, with no exit and no junction. She knew to be wary of HGVs, only a few weeks prior to the crash her boyfriend Giles, had sent her an article from Moving Target warning of the dangers of HGVs to cyclists.”

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