The ‘Green Party’ leader, Natalie Bennett has publicly recommended removing the presumption of HGV driver innocence when collisions occur with cyclists.
In a recent debate with labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, the Green Party leader said that drivers of heavy goods vehicles should have to prove their innocence when involved in an accident with a cyclist.
She is reported saying "If we presumed liability then the lorry driver has to show that they are not at fault when you've got a huge disparity of power, of weight, between the cyclists and the lorry,"
"We are talking about civil liability here, we are not talking about criminal cases. We are talking about situations where the vulnerable road user is killed or injured by a much larger, more dangerous vehicle, and where they should be entitled to compensation unless it can be clearly shown that they were at fault."
Bennett continued to say that this would force HGV drivers to take more care to avoid collisions with cyclists.
Sir Keir argued that a legal change could result in injustices, and the presumption of guilt, rather than innocence, would begin to seep into other parts of the UK legal system.
Keir said: "Once you shift the justice system to a system of presumption that somebody is in the wrong without having to demonstrate they're in the wrong, we have a real difficulty."
In UK civil cases, such as injury claims, the burden of proof lies with the claimant, who must prove his or her case "on the balance of probabilities."
The debate came after news that a woman had been killed in a collision with a lorry near Lambeth Bridge, London, on 9 April 2015. She was the fifth cyclist to be killed after a collision involving a HGV on London roads this year.
In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities, HGVs without the appropriate safety gear will be banned from London roads from September 2015 and also face hefty fines.
The perception of guilt has always been on the HGV driver in these situations and more and more restrictions and regulations have been put in place to help prevent these kinds of accidents happening.
It would be useful for, perhaps, the government to offer some kind of training or education to cyclists of the dangers of HGVs on the roads. It just seems everything is aimed at the HGV driver and no responsibility or blame is passed to the cyclists. I think we have all seen just how many cyclists there are in busy cities such as London and we have also seen that not all cyclists follow the highway code or are aware of the dangers they are putting themselves in.
Improving the field of view in a HGV will help reduce the number of these accidents immensely, however plans for ‘new safer truck designs’ were recently pushed back to 2022 by the EU.