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LHD HGV 'Blindspot' Crashes Cost £57 Million a Year

As the Government considers a £10 daily charge for foreign lorries entering UK roads, motor industry specialist, Accident Exchange, estimates the annual cost of foreign lorry accidents in the UK is already as much as £57,000,000[i].

The figure dwarfs the £23m yearly revenue projected for 2016 by the proposed charges for foreign trucks[ii] and Accident Exchange says the cost of accidents is on the rise.

Between December 2010 and December 2011, foreign lorries were the 'at fault' party for one in every 31 motorway accidents handled by Accident Exchange - a 30% increase on the previous 12-month period. There are an estimated 107,500 vehicle incidents on motorways each year, with foreign lorries now predicted to be responsible for 3,440 (3.2%) of these.[iii]

With 44% of innocent party vehicles classified as insurance 'write-offs' and average repair bills exceeding £2,300[iv], the total vehicle damage, combined with average values of prevention - for example the financial impact on the emergency services - is estimated at almost £57,000,000 each year.

Half (49%) of all the foreign lorry incidents handled by Accident Exchange happened on a motorway. Users of the M25 are most at risk - the London Orbital's 117-mile stretch saw more than one in three (37.3%) of all motorway incidents involving foreign lorries.

Despite being almost twice the length at 194-miles, the M1 accounted for just one in six (17.3%) foreign lorry scrapes. The M6 was third with 14.6%. The 50.6-mile M20 in Kent, which connects the M25 to the Channel Tunnel and ports in Dover and Folkestone, experienced 4.6% of collisions.

The most common cause of incidents involving foreign lorries is side-swiping, when motorists drive in a left-hand drive HGV's blind-spot.[v]

This is largely the fault of car drivers too stupid to realise that the driver of the HGV they are hovering beside cannot see them. All car drivers are urged to pass HGVs as quickly as possible, give HGVs as wide a berth as possibe, and be prepared for them to pull out to pass another HGV.

Steve Evans, Chief Executive of Accident Exchange commented; "We're disappointed to see incidents involving foreign lorries on the rise again, despite an excellent DfT-backed Fresnel lens programme to reduce the threat of side-swiping. Foreign-registered HGVs remain one of the most difficult 'at-fault' parties to recover costs from. Issues motorists face include invalid insurance policies; untraceable owners; drivers leaving false details or just failing to pull over at all."

In only 72% of the cases analysed were costs recovered from the negligent foreign party.

Evans continued: "The proposed charge of £10 daily, or £1000 annually, might redress some of the financial impact caused from foreign lorry collisions, but we're not sure it will solve the root problem of left-hand HGV drivers just not being aware of vehicles around them."

Since 2007, in an effort to reduce the problem, the Department for Transport (initiated by former Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman) has handed out thousands of Fresnel lenses to help reduce blindspotsd of left-hand drive HGVs.[vi] More recently Transport for London distributed more than 20,000 of the lenses to freight companies operating in London to improve cycle safety.

In 2008, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) released a report that revealed foreign lorries were three times more likely to be involved in collisions than their UK counterparts.[vii]

Under the Road Safety Act, revised in 2010, VOSA officers and police have the power to issue fixed penalties or on-the-spot fines of up to £900 to drivers of foreign vehicles if they commit offences.

According to DfT figures from 2010[viii], across all road types, foreign-registered heavy goods vehicles were involved in 88 reported incidents where casualties were either fatal or seriously injured. The total cost to the UK economy for these accidents, based on average values of prevention, was £36,821,180.[ix] In the case
of motorway casualties - where the majority of foreign-registered HGV incidents occur - the values of prevention are 23% greater.

Footnotes:

[i] There are an estimated 2.5million cases of vehicle damage reported on UK roads each year - an industry accepted figure.

Based on Accident Exchange data and correlating DfT figures www.dft.gov.uk/statistics, 4.3% of these cases occur on motorways. This equates to 107,500 motorway incidents each year. (4.3% of 2,500,000)

Accident Exchange found foreign lorries were responsible for 3.2% of motorway incidents the company handled in 2011: 3.2% of 107,500 is 3,440 incidents.

In the cases Accident Exchange dealt with, 44% of vehicles were classified as insurance write-offs at an average cost of £3,512. Vehicles that were repaired (56%) incurred an average bill of £2,368. The total cost of vehicle damage for 3,440 incidents - repairs and write-offs - is estimated at £9,877,478.

Foreign lorry collisions on motorways account for 49% of the total incidents Accident Exchange handles that involve foreign lorries. The rest occur on other road types. The total vehicle damage cost of all foreign lorry incidents, on all road types, is estimated at £20,158,118.

There were 15 'fatal' casualties with an average value of prevention of £1,585,510 per casualty and 73 'killed or seriously injured' casualties with an average value of prevention of £178,610 per casualty. The average value of prevention for all casualties that involve foreign-lorry registered heavy goods vehicles is estimated
to be £36,821,180. Based on figures from www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ras60001

Total annual cost to UK economy for vehicle damage and casualties involving foreign lorries is £56,979,298.

[ii] Under proposed government legislation, foreign lorries could be charged as much as £10 a day, or £1000 a year, to use UK roads. Transport Minister Mike Penning said; 'Each year there are around 1.5million trips to the UK by foreign-registered lorries - but none of them pay to use our roads, leaving UK businesses and tax
payers to foot the bill.' By 2016, the annual net revenue from the scheme could be more than £23million. (assets.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft)

[iii] There are an estimated 2.5million cases of vehicle damage reported on UK roads each year - an industry accepted figure.

Based on Accident Exchange data and correlating DfT figures (www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ras10016/), 4.3% of these cases occur on motorways. This equates to 107,500 motorway incidents each year. (4.3% of 2,500,000)

Accident Exchange found foreign lorries were responsible for 3.2% of motorway incidents the company handled in 2011: 3.2% of 107,500 is 3,440 incidents.

[iv] Almost one in two (44%) innocent party vehicles involved in collisions with foreign lorries were classified as insurance 'write-offs', at an average cost of £3,512. Repaired vehicles incurred an average body shop bill of £2,368.

[v] Despite foreign lorries being responsible for 3.2% of motorway incidents handled by Accident Exchange, they were only involved in 0.3% of vehicle damage on all road types. This suggests the blind spots of left-hand drive HGVs, most problematic in multi-lane driving such as on motorways, is the biggest contributor to collisions.

According to Department for Transport figures, the biggest contributory factors to motorway collisions (accounting for 68% of all incidents) are 'swerving into the other vehicle'; 'failure to look properly' and 'failure to judge the other driver's path.' (statistics/releases/road-accidents-and-safety-annual-report-2010)
http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/road-accidents-and-safety-annual-report-2010/rrcgb2010-04.pdf

[vi] Fresnal lenses http://www.dft.gov.uk/vosa/repository/Final%20Fresnel%20VOSA%20report%20V1.3.pdf

[vii] abi.org.uk/Publications/European_Drivers
http://www.abi.org.uk/Publications/European_Drivers_-_Crossing_Borders_Safely1.aspx

[viii] http://www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ras40005

[ix] There were 15 'fatal' casualties with an average value of prevention of £1,585,510 per casualty and 73 'killed or seriously injured' casualties with an average value of prevention of £178,610 per casualty. The total is £36,821,180. Based on figures from dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ras60001


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