The Child Pedestrian and Blind Spots Around Trucks
On the Arrive Alive website, we share information on defensive driving behaviour and sharing the roads safely with other road users.
This includes the need for alertness to specific high-risk areas and threats such as the blind spots around vehicles.
The risks of blind spot driving are increased when we share the roads with large trucks. We analyze these threats and share advice with motorists on how to mitigate these risk.
What is however often neglected is the danger of blind spots to pedestrians in traffic.
A new innovative safe scholar program is aimed at addressing this by increasing awareness among our young learners about safety when they move around and in front of trucks.
During the past few years many schools, teachers, and young learners have benefitted from the sterling work by the Imperial Scholar Patrol initiative and the pedestrian safety information provided to our young learners by trainers from Active Education and the Imperial Road Safety Mascot, Bongie.
Pedestrian deaths among young learners are heartbreaking for every parent and teacher and any initiative to make our learners safe should be well supported. Pedestrian safety initiatives should include information not only on crossing the roads safer but also an awareness of being visible in traffic and the message to be “Visible and to Be Seen”.
The initiative to make learners and the broader public aware of the “Line of Vision” for truck drivers and what constitutes a Blind Spot will make our roads safer!
We approached Bruce Smuts from Active Education to gain some Insights on this initiative:
Did this Initiative come as a natural fit to the other safe scholar programs by Imperial Road Safety?
It is seen as a natural extension of the program. By introducing a truck to learners in "real" life they actually see the size of the vehicle. Also, really eye-opening was the fact that the driver can’t see the learners, and how many people think that because of the size of the truck the driver can see everything. The reality is something much different.
How has this come about and what are the specific objectives of this Initiative?
Tanker Services, a division of Imperial, realized that due to the nature of their routes and operating in some of the most rural areas in South Africa, they can educate the youth along those routes about road safety and influence behaviour. This could eventually change habits and achieve the objective of reducing road incidents and saving lives.
Do you believe that there is a general lack of awareness among road users about blind spots and visibility in traffic?
Our statistics show that in 2016 47% of all our road crashes had a third-party influence. This year the figure stands at 53% to date, showing a general lack of awareness by road users. Many of these road crashes occur when motorists speed onto an on-ramp to reach an intersection before a truck and in the process fail to recognize that they may be in the blind spot of the truck driver.
By making the general public aware of the threats to their safety in blind spots we hope to reduce this number.
There is, in general, limited awareness about blind spots, especially among our most vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
Is this initiative aimed at both the Learners, Teachers and Truck Drivers? How do you demonstrate the importance of Blind Spot Awareness?
It's aimed at the general public. We are trying to make everyone aware of what the driver can and cannot see.
We take one of our trucks from Tanker Services and have it parked at the school. Educators/teachers are invited to climb behind the steering wheel with access to all the mirrors. We then gather some of the learners and position them all around the truck and mark those specific areas where the learners would be out of the line of sight from the truck driver or the teacher in the seat of the truck driver. We then ask the teacher to describe what he/she can see.
This clearly illustrates to all that there is a rather significant blind spot around trucks, especially for young learners. Up to 40 young children can be placed in these blind spots!
Has this been an eye-opener to all? What has the response been?
It has been a huge eye-opener! The response has been massive from all the kids and adults attending. Few are aware of the blind spot area right in front of and to the side of the truck. Learners would more likely resist running out in front of a stationary truck once they have been made aware of the limited vision a truck driver has to the blind spot right in front of the truck.
The blind spot next to the side of a truck is a high-risk area especially to our most vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
Do you believe it is something that should be and can be done at more schools across South Africa?
Absolutely! We are busy negotiating and working on our relationship with the Department of Education on this.