Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The people in charge of London roads do not understand safe road design

From the monstrous victim-blaming TfL Commissioner, Peter Hendy, to simpleton Councillors, like Phil Jones in Camden or Robert Benham in Havering, the people in charge of London roads have no clue on the principles of safe road design.

They are quick to blame victims or drivers, but refuse to learn the lessons from the killing fields.

Take the killing of Harry Keller & Colin Hicks in Romford last year. The couple was mowed down by a bus driver who ran a red light. The driver has been recently sentenced to 30 months in jail. For TfL and Havering Council, that is the end of the story: a rogue driver caused the death of two people. 

Any intelligent person would ask: "Why did someone with twenty years of experience driving buses do such an evil act?" The prosecutor at the trial said:
The driver pulled out from a lay-by 12 metres from the pedestrian crossing that already had been red for two-and-a-half seconds, continued accelerating towards the crossing which remained red. [CCTV] footage shows he did not slow down. He carried on over the stop line and drove head on into and over both Mr Keller and Mr Hicks narrowly missing a third pedestrian. The defendant simply did not see, or if he did, he did not register, both the victims at the pedestrian crossing.
And the idiot Judge William Kennedy's answer to why, was:
All those who drive: look in the mirror, tell me if you ever got to the end of the road and wondered what happened in the last 150 yards. Thank god in that 150 yards nothing dreadful happened. If anyone tells me that that’s never happened to them I will tell them I don’t believe them. A tragedy occurred inexplicable of proper decision.
i.e. "inexplicable behaviour" by the driver was the reason of the collision.

I often wonder if these people are just idiots or are so arrogant that they think we can just believe any idiocy that they say.

Dave Holladay, who is not an idiot, made these simple observations:

  • There are 27 (twentyseven!!!) bus routes stopping on this stretch of road
  • The speed limit is 30mph
  • The bus stop is only 15 metres from the pedestrian crossing
  • Bus drivers at the head of the bus stop have to pull out to progress; in other words, the driver instead of looking ahead to the pedestrian crossing, has to look to his side mirror to make sure no vehicle is coming at 30mph.

Suddenly we have a likely explanation of what happened; the "inexplicable behaviour" is simply due to the fact that bus drivers are tasked to look ahead for vulnerable pedestrians and at the same time look to the side mirror for oncoming traffic from behind. Most of the time, a human being can do it; but it is totally reasonable to expect an occasional failure, when a driver looks ahead, sees a green light and then spends too much time looking at the side mirror and fails to register that the light ahead has changed.

It is an error which should not be a death sentence for two people and a jail sentence for another.

The real error is designing what is basically a bus garage in the middle of a shopping centre, allowing vehicle to drive at 30mph and having conflicts of sight for drivers of buses.

Those are the errors which should be punished with jail sentences. 

David Holladay makes these simple recommendations:
  • 10mph speed limit (as in all bus depots)
  • zebra crossing (so drivers don’t rely on the lights)
  • bus stops should run straight to the road rather than be angled away from the pedestrian crossing (as is the case in the opposite direction)
In the two years prior to the killing of Keller and Hicks, there were five other collision at that crossing and yet Cllr Robert Benham, cabinet member for StreetCare, denied road design played a part in the deaths.

He should be the one serving time; as Tom Kearney said: They got the wrong guy

Sunday, 16 November 2014

National Funeral For The Unknown Victim Of Traffic Violence 15.11.14

Video by DrMorocho

Here is the speech by Tom Kearney:
I shouldn't be here today.
When the ambulance pitched up 27 minutes after a 15 ton TfL bus hit me in the head & chest on Oxford Street, I had no pulse from the bleeding out of my ears and mouth and I wasn't breathing through my two collapsed lungs. The police had reported me as a fatal.
I shouldn't be here today. This could have been my funeral too.
But I am just one of thousands here today protesting the lethal conditions for pedestrians and cyclists all across the United Kingdom.
But I am just one of thousands of people who've been hit by a vehicle on Europe's Busiest Shopping Street since the new century began.
But I am just one of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who've been killed or seriously-injured from a collision with a TfL bus since Boris Johnson became Chairman of Transport for London.
And I am just one of millions on this planet who’ve been killed or seriously-injured as a result of our species' addiction to the motor vehicle in the past decade.
We are not alone today.
There are countless lives who we honour, remember and evoke today who can only be here in spirit.
Those who've already passed ahead of us…taken unjustly from the road on which we're all travelling together.
We've lost fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, friends and lovers.
People we loved or liked, knew or just knew of, respected or just spent a nice time with have become:
Unused numbers on our mobile phones that we can't bear to delete
Empty places at the dinner table sadly noticed every day
or a visceral-but-fleeting memory evoked by a song, a smell, a photograph, or an anniversary.
And, having myself been taken to the end of road we're all travelling on by an Oxford Street Bus five years ago at Christmastime, I found that my spirits only asked me:
"Why are you here? There's so much more that needs to be done where we come from.
Remember us...because we'll see each other again.
Remember making it better"
And that's the thought I woke up to when I emerged from my near death-coma in the new year.
Boris, you can’t ignore us. We’re not dead.
You can see us.
You can hear us.
You can remember us.
Stop the Killing.
Enough said.

Friday, 31 October 2014

If the Coroner refuses to issue a PFD, we will

"Sub-standard" "Extremely poor" "Takes no account of human nature" "Effectively works as uncontrolled crossing"

This how PC Simon Wickenden described the crossing in front of Euston Station where Peter van de Bulk was killed by a bus.

Wickenden was speaking at the Coroner's Inquest held on 28.10.14.

As we described shortly after the killing, the traffic signals are completely dysfunctional. The cycle time is 96 seconds, of which the green man is on only for six seconds (there is an additional "black out" period of 12 seconds). This scandalous disrespect for people who walk is aggravated by the fact that only buses are allowed to use this road, and there is less than one bus a minute driving here. This means that in front of a mainline train station pedestrians are supposed to wait for 78 seconds just to let one bus (or possibly two) through.

The obvious result is that NO ONE waits at red.

Wickenden completed a thorough study of the speed of the buses as they pass the pedestrian crossing. There is a large 10mph sign painted on the ground and yet 66% of drivers were recorded at higher speeds with 15% driving at more than 16mph. As a result of this survey, Camden Council has narrowed the carriageway, to slow down bus movements.

The new paving shows the width restriction. Notice that as the lights are turning green for the bus, there are four pedestrians crossing or starting to cross in front of it. Picture by Dave Holladay

Wickenden has not yet carried out a study to see whether this intervention has had any effect

The inquest was marred by amateurism, typical of Coroners Courts. For instance, in spite of the bus driver admitting that he was late on his schedule, the Coroner did not ask any questions about the pressure he had been in to complete his route; as Tom Kearney has described in his blog, this factor greatly affects the standards of driving of bus drivers. The bus driver had waited nine seconds in the middle of the carriageway before turning; as soon as a taxi coming the opposite direction had passed he made his turn. The Coroner did not ask how big a gap was there between the taxi and the next vehicle. We have seen this before so many times: a bus driver, bullied by a controller to finish his route on time (otherwise their managers lose their performance bonuses) makes a risky manouvre at inappropriate speed and enters an area where many pedestrians are crossing the street and drives through with no consideration to their safety. This btw is exactly how my father was killed by a TfL bus.

The Coroner has in his pocket a Yellow Card. He can issue a Prevention of Future Death report, asking the relevant Transport Authority to make appropriate changes to reduce the risk of future deaths. The risk of future deaths does not have to be strictly related to the death examined in the Inquest: all is necessary is for the Coroner to discover, through the process of the Inquest, a situation which creates undue fatal risks to members of the public.

Coroner William Dolman refused to issue a PFD report saying as an excuse that "It was an one-off". This is reprehensible for two reasons:

  1. It is contrary of the rationale for PFDs. The P stands for Prevention; we don't have to see many deaths before fixing dangerous infrastructure. Wickenden has clearly shown that the signal phasing remains "sub-standard" and needs to be changed. The present phasing is dangerous and can lead to further deaths. The change needs to occur before Wickenden's warning is confirmed by another tragedy
  2. Dolman has been told that 66% of bus drivers exceed the speed limit at this junction. It is rational to think that this is not a one-off, but that bus drivers ignore many speed restrictions, especially the ones of 20mph and below. Therefore Dolman should have issued a PFD to TfL to investigate this widespread disregard of speed limits by the contractors it regulates and take appropriate action
This is a scandalous dereliction of duty and shame on Coroner Dolman. A young person has lost his life and no lessons have been learned.

BTW, it is NOT a one-off. This is a tweet by Dave Holladay who went to see the crossing after the Inquest.

Peter van de Bulk was a Transport for London employee. I am forwarding this blog to Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport. It is a formal request

  1. to change the phasing of the lights at this junction, so that pedestrians do not have to wait more than twenty seconds
  2. to carry out a thorough investigation of the speed of buses in areas where the limits are 20mph or lower, and especially near train stations and bus depots
  3. to carry out measures to ensure that contracting companies have clear systems to prevent speeding.
She owes this to the family of one of her colleagues, to all the victims of buses and to all Londoners.

Friday, 17 October 2014

National Funeral For The Unknown Victim Of Traffic Violence

15th November 2014.


Organised by Stop the Killing

Here are their Ten Demands:
1. Stop the Killing of Children - set up national multi-billion pound programme to convert residential communities across Britain into living-street Home Zones to abolish dangerous rat-runs.

2. Stop the Killing of Pedestrians - establish a national programme to fund pedestrianisation of our city and town centres, including the nation’s high-street – Oxford Street.

3. Stop the Killing of Pensioners from excessive speed - introduce and enforce speed limit of 20 mph on all urban roads, 40 mph on rural roads/lanes and 60 mph on all other trunk roads.

4. Stop the Killing of Cyclists - invest £15 billion in a National Segregated Cycle Network over the next 5 years. 

5. Stop the Killing by HGVs - ban trucks with blind spots by making safety equipment mandatory and strictly enforce current truck-safety regulations to reduce levels of illegally dangerous trucks down from estimated 30% to less than 1%.

6. Stop the Killing without liability – introduce a presumed civil liability law on behalf of vehicular traffic when they kill or seriously injure vulnerable road-users, where there is no evidence blaming the victim.

7. Stop the Killing from Lung, Heart and other Diseases caused by vehicular pollutants - make it mandatory for particulate filters that meet latest EU emission standards to be fitted to all existing buses, lorries and taxis. 

8. Stop the Killing at Junctions - introduce pedestrian crossing times long enough for elderly disabled to cross. Legalise filtered junction crossings by cyclists with strict legal priority for pedestrians and carry out urgent programme of physically protected left-hand turns for cyclists.

9. Stop the Killing from CO2 emissions from impacts of the climate crisis - all transport fuels to be from environmentally-sustainable renewable sources within 10 years.

10. Focus on Life! Transport governance must make safety and quality of life the top priority. Reform all council transport departments, the Department of Transport and Transport for London into Cycling, Walking and Transport Departments with formal pedestrian and cyclist representation.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Taxis send to hospital or morgue two people a week

See below the figures released by TfL.

Some comments:

1. No evidence of any improvement in the figures in past five years
2. TfL is the regulator of the 75,000 drivers. TfL does not have specific reduction targets for the KSIs from the drivers it regulates.
3. TfL has a very amateurish way to investigate allegations of dangerous driving by its regulated drivers. Essentially it sends out a letter to the driver to "remind him [or her] of the standards of driving and behaviour that we expected our licensed taxi and private hire drivers to demonstrate at all times."
4. Good luck to anyone attempting to report an incident of bad driving to the Police. Their RoadSafe website is typical British diversionary tactics "show you are doing something, while actually doing nothing"

==> Dangerous driving by taxi drivers is an unpoliced crime, allowed to fester on our streets, destroying the quality of life of all citizens.

P.S. Thanks to Tom Kearney for forcing out the data.

KSIs for taxis and private hire vehicles
Question No: 2014/2349
Darren Johnson
Can you provide statistics regarding the number of deaths and injuries to a) drivers b) passengers c) pedestrians and d) cyclists as a result of road collisions involving London taxis for each of the the last 5 years, up to the latest date for which figures are available?
Written response from the Mayor
The tables below provide figures for personal injury collisions that occurred on the public highway, reported by the police in accordance with the STATS19 national reporting system, for the five-year period 2009 to 2013.  STATS19 reports all injury collisions, including those involving a ‘taxi or private hire’ vehicle, as a single category rather than for ‘London taxis’ only. 
Over the same period, the number of licensed taxis and private hire vehicles in London has increased by 6 per cent, from 71,627 to 75,621. The number of licensed taxi drivers and taxis are at the highest level on record.
TfL will publish quarterly provisional STATS19 figures throughout the year, including those for ‘taxi or private hire’ vehicles.  This will be available by late summer on the TfL website at:
TfL is continuing its work to raise awareness of cycle safety with taxi and private hire drivers and to reduce the number of collisions involving taxis or private hire vehicles with cyclists. Work has also been done to remind passengers to look out for cyclists when getting out of a taxi or private hire vehicle in order to reduce ‘doorings’ and collisions between cyclists and taxi/private hire passengers. New proposals to improve cycle safety around taxis and private hire vehicles are included in the draft Cycle Safety Action Plan, on which I am seeking public feedback. I welcome suggestions on how we can make cycling in London even safer.
The consultation is available here:

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Shame on you

There are only losers in war.

Here is a young Palestinian:

Such a young life, snuffed out in a few seconds.

In the past few days, four young people were robbed of their lives through violence on the killing fields of London:

Watch the video and you begin to feel what it is like to die too early, what it feels to watch someone being killed, what it feels having a loved one being robbed of his life.

And similar to the devastation in Gaza, London has been brutalised by authorities who embrace traffic violence against the welfare of ordinary citizens:
  • Children cannot ride safely to school
  • Pensioners don't have sufficient time to cross the streets
  • Thousands killed by the smog
  • And pervasive noise and ugliness.

Shame on you, Netanyahu.

Shame on you, Hamas.

Shame on you, Boris Johnson, for prioritising "smoothing traffic flow".

Shame on you, Peter Hendy and Leon Daniels for covering up the killings by Transport for London.

Shame on you, Metropolitan Police, for persistently siding with the violent people.

Shame on you, Transport Industry, for insisting on driving blind killing machines.

Shame on you, HSE, for refusing to investigate professional killers.

Shame on you, British Justice System, for refusing properly to prosecute and ban the violent people.

Shame on you, Department for Transport, for treating walking and cycling as second class.

These people are waging a war against us.

Vision Zero London will shame them to oblivion, until peace reigns on our streets.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Guest Blog by A Transport Specialist: Hazard Monitoring and Risk Management Issues Raised by TfL's Q1 Bus Safety Data


TfL’s historic decision to publish Bus Safety Data every quarter gives the public an excellent opportunity to scrutinise TfL bus subcontractors’ safety performance on regular basis.  Based on discussions commenced on this blog as well on the Safer Oxford Street blog, both of us were presented with this Guest Blog by A Transport Specialist who has worked for decades in the UK Transport Sector.  It is no coincidence that A Transport Specialist presented this blog both to Tom Kearney and me: both Tom and I are victims of the flaws in TfL’s Bus Operations System that produce so many deaths and serious injuries in London.  My father was killed by a TfL Bus on Regent Street in July 1997 and Tom was nearly killed by a TfL Bus less than a kilometre away on Oxford Street in December 2009. 

The impetus behind the campaigning of Vision Zero London and Safer Oxford Street is to compel  TfL – paid professionals who have both the power to kill and seriously-injure and the power to change things – to take some accountability for bus collisions and to change things for the better.  Lives and livelihoods need not be destroyed from preventable collisions involving TfL buses.

A Transport Specialist offers some very compelling observations of how TfL might start changing things for the better.

Tom Kearney                                                                       Andrea Casalotti
Safer Oxford Street Blog                                                   Vision Zero London Blog

Guest Blog by A Transport Specialist: Hazard Monitoring and Risk Management Issues Raised by TfL's Q1 Bus Safety Data

Having worked in the rail industry for decades, and taking a keen interest in the mechanisms/methodology of safety and how to deliver it (especially for cyclists), I am signed up for regular alerts from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.  Based on my analysis of the TfL's Q1 Bus Safety Data, here are some issues that immediately spring to mind.

1. What is TfL’s Q1 2014 Bus Safety Data Not Telling Us?

The Q1 Data released by TfL show 285 incidents involving its bus fleet where 283 people were sent to hospital (Serious Injury) and 2 people died on the scene (Fatals).  TfL decided to display this casualty data for individual subcontracting divisions as opposed to consolidating the data and showing totals for each Bus Holding Company.  I have consolidated and enhanced this data to make it easier to draw some initial conclusions about it.

The data published by TfL reflects information that has been filed by its Bus Subcontractor.  Where no information has been published (i.e., what I’m calling a “Nil Return”), I am assuming that no KSI incidents have taken place.   One of Arriva’s subsidiaries, Arriva TGM, has a Nil Return but it operates just one TfL contract (E10 - 8 buses - Heathrow). In addition, Community Transit (HCT Group) reports a single KSI and Transit Systems (a former Firstgroup operation, now controlled by the Australian Transit Systems group) has just 5 reports.

By taking TfL's Q1 Bus Safety Data and linking it to the size of each Bus Company's Fleet under contract to TfL (a crude measure but one to use such a marker in the absence of any other data being made available by TfL), one can now more readily show Q1's worst and best performers.

Bus Company
KSI Incident Rate per Bus
1 KSI per 19 buses
1 KSI per 20 buses
1 KSI per 23 buses
1 KSI per 25 buses
1 KSI per 34 buses
1 KSI per 38 buses
CT Plus
1 KSI per 73 buses
Tower Transit
1 KSI per 74 buses
Nil Return = No KSI incidents?
Quality Line
Nil Return = No KSI Incidents?
London Sovereign
Nil Return = No KSI incidents?
  Source:  Transport for London Q1 results and bus contract listing

Whilst noting that Arriva stands out in this analysis as the worst performer of Bus Companies supplying more than 1000 buses to TfL (it supplies about 20% of the fleet but reports more than 27% of the KSI incidents), this fact has to be weighed against the number of contracts being performed by Arriva and the scale and specific location of those operations.  Perhaps Arriva is the main contractor in combined terms of the number of buses and routes on London's busiest roads? 

Go-Ahead provides the largest number of buses under contract with TfL  (1828 buses or 23.6% of the total TfL fleet) but only reports 16.84% of KSI incidents in Q1.   This ranks Go-Ahead at 1 incident for every 38 buses operating, far better than any of the other 3 groups (Arriva, ComfortDelGro, Stagecoach) providing more than 1000 buses on TfL contracts.  Only Abellio comes close as a major operator.  Could Go-Ahead or Abellio be doing something differently to account for the lower figures?

Based on the information supplied by TfL, with the largest number of buses running around and many routes in Central London, Go-Ahead appears to be only being beaten by the much smaller operators. Might factors such as local routes (Sullivans routes are all in outer London) and a closer connection between management and front line staff be delivering a greater level of diligence and faster response to any issues (eg 'rogue' drivers)?  That being said, just KSI one incident would rank in Sullivans equal place with the overall worst performer for incidents per number of buses, RATP's London United. 

Epsom Coaches, which has operated as a clearly defined entity within the Transdev/RATP period, and MD Steve Whiteway are particularly worth a mention here, as they ran an interesting trial of operating their buses with the engine management system set to limit the top speed (but not engine power) to 30mph, on routes entirely within a 30mph limit.  This delivered some interesting results 

reduced minor collisions,
reduced driver stress,
reduced fuel consumption.

What might we see if TfL’s Q1 report provided better detail. Why, for example is Route 109 featuring in 11 incidents, why a run of 4 passenger falls in the bus in Jan-Feb on route 205, or 4 each for falls outside the bus all in January on Routes 109 and 410?  Perhaps the last detail might be due to ice or snow conditions at bus stops given the time of year and specific locations on those routes.  That latter detail might perhaps identify a key intervention to deal with winter conditions but without detail and effective monitoring. Where do we start?

There were 13 bus drivers sent to hospital, but no identification on age or gender, or whether (in the cases, which were not assault) the incident was a crash with another vehicle or object, or being hit by another bus at a bus depot or station, and 5 incidents where the road user was taken to hospital but the type of 'road user' is not recorded.

The 3 operators with several contracts apiece who have no reported serious injuries, are not listed.  If the review is to be thorough they should be there - even with a nil return, these buses should be counted to provide the overall picture on London Buses contracted services. Reviewers can spot good performers and even trends (eg most reported 'assaults' in the period were in Lambeth - 4 in 9 reported incidents) and link this to internal and external factors.  What, when something is done differently delivers a reduction?   With that added detail, there can be opportunities to make significant progress in reducing that quarterly toll.

Of course all of this analysis is based on the data available as presented from the TfL record. These are base figures and rely on the full reporting of all incidents, and the analysis is equally basic, and would benefit from deeper testing of statistical validity of the small sample sizes. It would be of great value to have this data in the open and pulled together for a more thorough analysis of the detail.Only by really understanding a problem can you have any potential for fixing it properly.

2. TfL Might consider applying Safety Practices & Incident Investigation being used by the Rail, Maritime & Air Industries.

Our rail system is very safe.   Hardly one passenger a year is killed, and fatalities for staff at work are equally low. In one recent year, the prospect of no staff fatalities was cruelly cut-short by a worker killed in a road crash, heading for a site via the A9.   RAIB reports inform the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), who then can order operators to deliver action on the way they operate or the equipment they use.  These reports are all based on a thorough objective and impartial investigations carried out and the results published online for full open access, so that the public can see what faults have been identified, and how those issues should be addressed.   A core element is the methodical review of all causal factors, without any placing of blame, and how these have combined to deliver the dangerous situation.

Our airline & shipping industry is also very safe. The air and maritime regulators (Civil Aviation Agency [CAA] & Maritime & Coastguard Agency [MCA]) likewise receive reports both on the incidents where harm has occurred, and the incidents which MIGHT have caused a problem but the lucky card came in to play. The Health & Safety Executive  (HSE) does the same for factories. 

The gaping void is that we have no equivalent Highways Accident Investigation Branch.  Investigations do take place: the Police do them, generally with the objective of identifying the guilty parties, and so these may be slightly biased when measured against the premise of the objective and impartial RAIB system, and of course, even when the detail is provided to a Coroner, it is not published.  Insurers also investigate, but their objective is to establish the liability of one or more of the parties involved.

3. Should TfL Bus Drivers Have A Confidential Incident Reporting & Analysis System (CIRAS) like the Rail Industry?

Rolled out in Scotland, CIRAS is now an established part of the railway safety structure. It provides a fully confidential reporting system, which can be used to register individual concerns, about work colleagues, working  practices, and other activity which presents a safety hazard, or fails to apply good systems of risk management.  I believe it is now being considered for other industries, including, quite possibly, for bus and coach operations. This newsletter shows how the CIRAS system works.

4. Why Are Road Incidents Any Different?

The incident investigation duty for TfL and other roads authorities is covered by Section 39 of The Road Traffic Act 1988, but a few FOIA requests fired in around the UK reveal the inadequate material which is being delivered by way of 'investigation'.  From these often weak listings of crash dates and locations, very little can be learned to prevent future crashes. TfL's delivery is slightly more structured, and an increasingly-detailed resource is published, but getting access to this information often demands determined external and internal pressure from people like Tom Kearney, Andrea Casalotti and supportive GLA members. 

There also appears to be very little direction coming from DfT on what they expect to be delivered by Section 39 either, but a glimmer of hope came in the recent announcements about a roads regulator (below) who will be required when the Highways Agency is converted into a contracted supplier for roads infrastructure. That presents a whole new debate, but we have to move on from simply shrugging our shoulders and mumbling “**it happens" for every road crash.

5.  A Roads Regulator

A DfT announcement about a month ago hinted at plans to turn the Highways Agency into, essentially, a Railtrack for Roads.  The DfT noted that some of the parallel detail would be needed to provide the functioning that matched that for the rail network, with a roads equivalent of the Rail Regulator (although the thinking at present seems to be adding a section to ORR [Office of the Rail Regulator] rather than enhancing the existing 'roads regulator' function of the Traffic Commissioner, and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).  If that regulator is to be effective it will have to possess Incident Investigation Capacity to the same standards as RAIB, and a Highways Accident Investigation Branch has to be part of that delivery. If we are to make a difference in delivering safer roads we cannot continue with the weak and flawed arrangements of Section 39.

6. Coroners Reports & Prevention of Future Death Orders: A New Change Agent for Road Safety? 

Though relatively new in the post, the Chief Coroner is encouraging his deputies to make greater use of their power using Rule 43 - better known as a Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) Report. Although a PFD asks for answers rather than directs changes in its own right (because, for one thing, it lacks the technical expert detail of a rail accident report), the Coroner can only ask others to provide the answers in a PFD.  Since 2013, such answers are placed in a publicly-accessible online location.

A PFD Report Order was issued by North London (Camden) Coroner Mary Hassell for the second fatal crash in 5 years of a large vehicle turning left from Vernon Place into Southampton Row. In both cases, the large vehicle approached the junction in a lane marked for traffic going straight ahead and forced a conflicting priority over the traffic using the nearside lane, negligent of the fact that it was being used by a cyclist at that time. Quite simply, the left turn with a substandard corner radius (of around 4 metres instead of 6), and an angle greater then 90 degrees cannot be safely negotiated by a large vehicle with traffic moving in the nearside lane.  The immediate and blindingly simple remedy is to ban the drivers of such vehicles from making the left turn here and send them round via Theobalds Road, Proctor Street and High Holborn making right turns with the road space to do this in a safer way.  As yet Camden Council and TfL's responses have not yet been made public. 

Frankly, some of the language produced in the answers does very little to deliver any convincing action to prevent future deaths (Bow Roundabout proved this with a further death after the safety improvements were made).   To get substantive answers, Coroners might look to the mandate which is placed on the roads authority to investigate crashes, and from those investigations direct itself on what measures may be required to promote safety or alter the design and management of the roads over which it has control.  The major flaw here has to be repeated - for Section 39 - Who will Watch the Watchman? (quis custodiet ipsos custodes)

7. Some Positive Trends in Monitoring Bus Driver Behaviour

In March 2014 Stagecoach London went fully active with the Green Road system of monitoring driver performance, which they initially tested at their Barrow-in-Furness depots few years ago. The system ranks driving by logging severe braking and acceleration, and other parameters, giving a green light for smooth and fuel efficient driving through to a red light for the opposite extremes.  The initial trial doubled the average mileage between crashes from 29,000 to 58,000 and cut fuel consumption by 4%. Stagecoach is rewarding drivers who get consistent 'green light' scores, and has a healthy staff buy-in for the system. We need to wait for Q2 results but there has been an interesting change in the type of incidents from February onwards.  

Other big groups also subscribe to Green Road and similar 'traffic light' performance monitoring, and Stagecoach makes a great show of the rewards offered to drivers achieving solidly green-light reports, as this system encourages driving with good anticipation of hazards, and financial incentives of lower fuel consumption, and reduced wear and tear on the vehicles.

A wider scheme is applied by the Traffic Commissioners, (London being Metropolitan & SE Traffic Area - Nick Denton) but with the greater focus on HGV use, for their Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS), where points are racked up for various 'offences' and other performance ratings, and generate a red, amber or green ranking for an operator and their vehicles. With a red ranking the operator can expect to be more closely watched than a green ranked one.  This is primarily a means of monitoring that the named Transport Manager, required as a licence condition for any Operator with a UK Domestic or International Operators Licence (LGV or PCV), is doing the periodic check on the validity of their drivers' licences, getting a minimum number of annual vehicle test failures, with no roadside prohibition notices, and other required administration.  

The Annual Report by the Traffic Commissioners (in my view greatly under resourced for their task of "Reducing harm" from the commercial use of the UK's road system) is well worth a read, especially if you can begin to pick up the nuances buried in the official statements.  The now-retired Bgdr. Tom McCartney neatly commented that he felt the small number of driver disciplinary interviews did not reflect the true need for them, and equally highlighted the informal way in which his office was receiving key intelligence from other agencies on driver and operator behaviour.  This perhaps highlights the notion that the best form of Policing is perhaps free and open access to information.

8. Some Upcoming Trends in Regulating Bus Driver Behaviour

Bus Driver X highlights a number of interesting issues that apply to both Bus Driving generally and Bus Driving in London.  Here are a few items to mull over:

The Conduct Regulations 1990 and the 2002 amendments relating to DDA issues.

The full title is the Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations 1990. This legislation, with a serendipitous foresight actually made the use of mobile phones by PCV drivers illegal from well before their use was widespread. Essentially for that part of the regulations ensures that when the vehicle is moving the driver's sole activity should be driving it and that means:
  • no non-essential use of microphones (that sign on a tour coach, and why sightseeing buses have a separate tour guide)
  • no non-essential conversation with anyone (why you use a bell-push to stop the bus and do not stand in front of a marked line on the front platform
  •  a vain hope on some buses where the statutory limit on standing passengers, displayed by law inside the bus in 1" lettering is well exceeded).

Observation of the details in sections 4 and 5 of the Conduct Regulations will reveal that it is regularly not rigidly observed on a daily basis, and there is some degree of common-sense in enforcement.

General driving laws also make the use of a display screen when the vehicle is being driven illegal, but with (last I checked) 3 exceptions, where the screen for example provides the equivalent of a mirror showing an external view.  Amazingly some bus operators needed to be convinced of this when early CCTV cameras were being fitted to monitor bike racks, and trailers at the back of buses 20 years ago.

The position on iBus and the apparent requirement for the bus driver to deal with text messages when driving would appear to be a new area to get guidance on, and perhaps this prompts a call to carry out an objective assessment of the use of this new technology and the legislation framed nearly 25 years ago.

9.  Putting everyone in the Picture

If you are going to sort a problem out properly you need to get a clear picture of what the problem is.  The brilliant blogpost by Mark Treasure on the failure to deliver Placemaking for the public realm in London and many UK cities because they have not grasped the fact that a place for people to interact cannot also be a place to move a massive volume of traffic through at the same time, and so the term Placefaking has been coined for all those schemes that miss that point so badly. 

I hope I've highlighted why our rail, air and maritime transport operations see so few fatal and serious injury incidents.  Investigation of any serious crash - or even a potentially serious crash which was avoided by pure luck of not having every element quite lined up for a disastrous outcome - is delivered by an independent and impartial agency, and the results published in full.  There are regulators ORR, CAA, MCA who - based on the recommendations made by the investigation - can then order the rail, air and maritime organisations they regulate to take action within a defined time.

We do have a regulator for commercial use of the roads, the Traffic Commissioners, supported by the DVSA, who require licensed operators to meet standards, including the catch-all requirement of being of good repute.  To aid them in directing limited resources to the most wayward operators, there is an Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS).

But the compliance with vehicle testing and operation standards does not always have formal or robust links back to the wider spectrum of driver and vehicle operation.  Traffic Commissioners can revoke a vocational drivers licence if they feel that driver is not fit to drive a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) or Light Goods Vehicle (LGV), yet the tragic records of many fatal crashes with 'HGVs' in particular reveal drivers with a trail of traffic offences, and clear warnings that they are unfit to be behind the wheel of a large and dangerous vehicle - some have been able to kill twice before they are stopped. Clearly, we need both better detail, and a more effective way to use that detail "to prevent harm" (a useful phrase repeated by one of the Commissioners in a speech she made to define the basic mission of her office in managing the commercial use of the roads). Reading between the lines of past annual reports, one senses an awareness that the Commissioners might be calling more drivers and operators in for a formal interview if intelligence and the resources to handle it were more readily available.

10. TfL’s Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety Project can serve as a Model for Improving TfL Bus Safety

TfL has taken up the baton with Construction Industry to get a better regime for monitoring and management, delivering a far more effective solution than the sticking plaster approach of adding secondary systems and technological gizmos.  These basically deal with the failings of current truck designs to provide clear direct vision between the driver of the truck and other road users sharing the road space around it rather than providing that direct vision, and managing the truck use to avoid those hazardous situations in the first instance. 

TfL's Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy recently had a working breakfast with key CEO's on how the next stages of work for the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) project might move forward, with its next full meeting on 10th July 2014.  The Transport Commissioner is clearly rattled by the legal loopholes which permit relaxed operator’s licence conditions for certain types of truck used solely for the owner's business, and even the mobile plant category which allows what to all appearances is a 40 Tonne truck to be driven on a standard driving licence. 

Reputable operators do apply appropriate standards, but with the legal loopholes it only takes a few to exploit the position to raise the risks.  In the context of bus operations a watershed in another area came a few years ago when the growing use of stretch limousines carrying more than 8 passengers, but not meeting several bus and vehicle safety criteria was reined in, but this (and Tom Kearney might certainly observe) is only tinkering at the edges of a bigger operation.
Much of what is being worked on for CLOCS could be transferred to the bus operations.  This fact strikes me as something that can be broached with those high up in TfL and those within the campaigning community who are already backing CLOCS.    Whilst there is a desire to see the bus safety issue delivered directly and with a due sense of urgency, the progress being made in CLOCS can be an opportunity to start with another sector and feed out from the lessons learned and systems proven.  Delivery on a smaller scale (with construction traffic, or as Tom has focussed, on just Oxford Street's bus routes) will give us the opportunity to fine tune and align the delivery of road safety for all sectors to a common standard and, in turn, will make wider analysis and actions to improve safety easier to deliver.

- A Transport Specialist