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Bath tipper truck accident highlights road safety concerns around schools

15th April 2015

As investigations continue into the Bath tipper truck accident which took place earlier this year, one of the victims seriously injured in the incident is calling for large vehicles to be banned around school roads.

Karla Brennan, a parent whose child attends Weston All Saints Primary School located off  Lansdown Lane was hit head-on by the tipper truck whilst in her car on February 9, she was seconds away from collecting her son from an after-school club, and has been left with serious injuries. The incident also led to four people, including a young child being fatally injured.

Miss Brennan comments: “Whilst we are still unaware of the full circumstances of the accident – the incident raises the question of whether large vehicles should be allowed to travel along or near school roads, especially at busy times such as pick-up and drop-off.”

The accident, which occurred just after 4pm, was around the time when parents and relatives were still collecting their children from school.

Miss Brennan says that parents in the area had been notified that Weston All Saints Primary School is due to be expanding in September of this year. A new teaching block will see the introduction of six further classrooms, allowing the school to accommodate 630 children on its site, making it the largest primary school in Bath.

Discussions surrounding the plans, which were approved seven months before the tipper truck tragedy, acknowledged potential traffic problems around the site, but the need for primary school places was seen as a priority for the area.

“This is likely to see even more traffic around the school and neighbouring roads and again reinforces the unsuitability of larger vehicles around school sites.

“Whilst additional road safety will need to be considered for the school, such as the inclusion of a second road crossing to assist children and parents safely across Lansdown Lane or Broadmoor Road, the priority must be to decide what vehicles are suitable to access these roads first,” said Mrs Brennan.

Following the accident in February, it was confirmed that Lansdown Lane had been subject to a safety campaign and was described as a “very busy thoroughfare” by locals, as the road provides a convenient route to the M4 motorway. Miss Brennan has also been involved in raising awareness of road safety around the school site. 

Some months earlier to the incident, a speed restriction of 20mph was added to certain points of the road, as well as flashing lights to notify drivers of the steepness of the hill. There was also a separate sign that recommended HGV’s should not use the road, but did not impose a ban.

In August 2014 traffic calming measures were put in place, which included narrowing the road and widening the footway.

Miss Brennan, who following the accident suffered multiple injuries, including serious maxillofacial injuries, is now pursuing a claim for compensation through serious injury solicitor, Trevor Sterling at Moore Blatch.  He comments: “It is clear from our investigations and press accounts that there were several attempts to make Lansdown Lane a safer road, but despite this a very serious accident was still able to take place. We feel that HGV’s by their very size present a higher risk to other road users and are especially unsuitable vehicles to allow around schools. 

“We are supporting our client’s call for a ban or at the very least a restriction around when these vehicles can use such roads, avoiding busier times. It may be that any change or recommendation made through the ongoing investigations that occurs on a local level should also be reflected in a national strategy around larger vehicles and school sites.” 

The inquest considering the circumstances around the tipper truck accident is due to take place later this year and is awaiting the conclusion of the police investigations.

Trevor comments: “The findings of the inquest are likely to have a wider impact on safety that will not only be important to the bereaved families and those injured by the accident, but to ensure the future safety of children and families in light of the school’s expansion plans.

“We will be writing to the Coroner to request that the scope of the inquest be considered in line with the Glasgow bin lorry crash and detail these below.”

Moore Blatch will be urging the inquest to consider the following three categories when investigating the tipper truck accident:

  1. Driver of the vehicle – his fitness to hold a licence, with particular reference to his age (even though no age limit has been contravened) and qualification, his employment record and training.
  2. The vehicle and its technical aspects – if there could be any measures or interventions to have brought the vehicle to a controlled stop? A key question to resolve would be whether there was a brake/mechanical failure in this particular incident.
  3. Safety of the route – exploring the appropriateness of the route taken by the vehicle and also considering this in light of the time of day.

 

Only yesterday a bin lorry was reported to have crashed into the hedge of a front garden in Glasgow after the driver was taken ill, whilst on this occasion there were no injuries, it reinforces again the danger these vehicles pose should the worst occur.

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