Coroner wants ban on trucks without blind spot technology

By: Brad Gardner


Coronial inquest into death of cyclist recommends new conditions be placed on bonneted trucks

Coroner wants ban on trucks without blind spot technology
Queensland coroner Christine Clements wants a ban on bonneted trucks without blind spot technology.

 

Bonneted trucks should be banned from busy Brisbane streets unless they have blind spot technology fitted, a coroner has recommended, following an inquest into a fatal collision between a truck and a cyclist.

Coroner Christine Clements has handed down her findings into the death of Rebekka Tine Lousdal Meyer, who was ran over on the morning of September 11, 2014 while turning at a busy city intersection at Woolloongabba, 2km south-east of Brisbane's CBD.

A fully-laden bonneted Kenworth hauling two trailers was behind the 22-year-old Meyer when it struck her at the intersection of Stanley Street and Annerley Road, sending her under the vehicle’s wheels and killing her instantly.

Clements found that Meyer was about 1.5m to 2m in front of the truck while waiting for the traffic signal to turn and that the driver, Jody Jeffrey, did not see her as they both took off. The inquest heard the truck had a blind spot of about 7m.

"There remains the inherent danger of laden conventional trucks operating within congested city environments, particularly with respect to the limited forward vision from the driver’s position of these vehicles," Clements states in her report.

"Conventional shaped heavy vehicles should be prohibited unless they are fitted with appropriate technologies to warn the driver of any obstacles or other road users within the forward blind spot of the truck."

Clements says information should also be distributed to car drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists to educate them about blind spots on trucks.

"Eye level signage at the back of vehicles (similar to Keep Clear of Turning Vehicle) could assist in alerting other road users to the danger of positioning themselves directly in front of conventional shaped heavy vehicles," Clements says.

Jeffrey, who has been a professional truck driver for 17 years, says the design of the truck restricted his view to the point where a person measuring 1.5m in height standing in front of it would be invisible to him. The truck also had a bug deflector fitted, further restricting his view.

Jeffrey told the inquest he was unaware a cyclist was in the vicinity when he pulled up to the intersection. He says he did not see a cyclist ahead of him, passing him or approaching from behind.

"Mr Jeffrey did not see Ms Meyer or the bicycle at any time until after the collision had occurred and the bicycle was ejected from underneath the left-hand side of his vehicle," Clements says.

"He did however feel something in the way the truck handled as he moved through the intersection."

Jeffrey says he thought his truck hit a manhole cover, and when he tried to accelerate again it felt like the back wheels were coming off.

"When he pulled over and jumped out of the truck he saw a man running up to him. He observed his face to be really white and he was shaking. The man told him he had run over a cyclist. It was only then that Mr Jeffrey realised what had occurred," Clements says.

 

CRUCIAL QUESTION UNRESOLVED

Witnesses to the incident reported seeing Meyer in front of Jeffrey while stationary at the intersection, but could not say if the cyclist was always in front or moved in front of the truck.

Clements says there is insufficient evidence to establish how and when Meyer came to be in front of Jeffrey.

She says there is a possibility Meyer rode on the inside left-hand side of the truck, but questioned if she would do so given the Danish native was an experienced cyclist.

"Given her experience and the very close proximity of heavy vehicles moving through tight lanes it would seem unlikely that she would ride up on the inside of a very large vehicle and place herself directly in front," Clements says.

"It cannot be resolved with any certainty whether Ms Meyer was always ahead of Mr Jeffrey’s truck, and he failed to see her, or whether she came up beside the truck without him observing this and then moved in front of his truck in a position where she could not be seen."

Likewise, forensic crash investigators could not determine how and when Meyer appeared in front of the truck.

"If Ms Meyer did ride up on the inside of Mr Jeffrey’s truck then he missed observing her passage alongside him in his left hand side mirrors. Once positioned directly in front of the truck it was impossible for him to have seen her," Clements says.

"Alternatively, it was possible Ms Meyer was always ahead of Mr Jeffrey’s truck and he failed to see her. While Mr Jeffrey was cooperative throughout the investigation and inquest and gave no reason to doubt his credibility it is still possible in this environment that he failed to see Ms Meyer."

Clements made a number of other recommendations, including widening the pedestrian crossing across Stanley Street and marking a bicycle path, installing CCTV cameras and bike boxes at the intersection.

"The bike box is a physically designated four metre space the width of the centre right hand turning lane delineated on the road surface in front of the stop line on Stanley Street," Clements says.

She says the Brisbane City Council should also work with bicycle representative groups to investigate, plan and develop more dedicated bikeways in Brisbane.

"Ms Meyer’s family might one day return to Brisbane. It is to be hoped that if they do, they will be able to see some positive improvements in safety for the cycling public," Clements says.

 

 

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