A new safety device aimed at saving the lives of cyclists and pedestrians by preventing them from falling under the wheels of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is being trialled on London’s roads.
The new Dawes Guard has been fitted to one of demolition contractor Keltbray Group’s tipper trucks and creates a shield across the danger zone between the axles of large vehicles. In the event of a collision, it prevents a person from being able to slip between the gap and subsequently under the back wheels which significantly reduces the risk of serious or fatal injury, said Keltbray.
Dawes Highway Safety (DHS), the company behind the design, said that the system could be retracted or deployed with the flick of a switch from inside the cab, therefore enabling the vehicle to be used in uneven, off-road environments.
“Whenever vulnerable road users were involved with vehicles like HGVs, the majority of the time, when they bounced off the front or didn’t go under the rear wheels, they survived. But, almost certainly, if they did go underneath the wheels, they were subjected to life threatening injuries. So looking at the design of the lorries, I realised that we needed to close that gap,” said DHS managing director James Dawes.
“[The device] also needs to suit the needs of the industry, which is why this system is retractable. The driver can flick a switch in the cab and the system retracts as if it’s not there.
“There are brushes at the bottom which give ride height to go over speed bumps, but if the person is at ground level, because of the stiff bristles it stops legs and arms going underneath and into the path of the wheels.”
The other side of the tipper truck has also been fitted with the Dawes ‘People Panel’. This panel, explained DHS, is specifically made of a specialist grade of tough shatterproof plastic that can be fitted over existing under-run bars to reduce the risk of entanglement of clothing or bicycle parts.
Keltbray head of haulage operations Terry Good said: “When it comes to the safety of our drivers and other road users, we are constantly seeking ways to improve standards through training and investment in the latest safety technology.”
Good added that CCTV equipment had been fitted to the front, offside and nearside of all of the company’s tipper trucks along with cycle and pedestrian sensor systems. Other safety features include side under-run guards, reversing cameras and white noise reversing sirens, cab operated air tailgate systems, front and rear strobe lighting and hydraulic load sensors.
“However, road safety is a continuous process, and so we keep investing in equipment to ensure that our vehicles are fitted with ever more modern equipment,” said Good.
“We are therefore now very excited to trial the Dawes Guard which we hope holds the key to optimising safety and preventing vulnerable road users from entering the danger zones underneath the truck. Flexibility and ease has been built into the system, which our drivers can deploy and retract with the flick of a switch.”
The product has been invented by Dawes, who was a former motorcycle officer with the Metropolitan Police. He said that he was now dedicated to finding a way to prevent tragic and life-changing consequences of road collisions between lorries and bikes.