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Freight Transport Association, FTA, Know your artic from your elbow and stay VITAL

Students returning to universities across the country are being encouraged to know their artic from their elbow as part of a new campaign to improve road safety. Launched by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the campaign is hoping to reduce the number of injuries and near-misses experienced by student cyclists, particularly around lorries and larger vehicles.

The campaign urges cyclists to stay VITAL:

Visible make sure the driver can see you and you can see them
Indicate make your actions obvious
Turning understand that lorries need a wider turning circle so will swing right when making a left turn
Alcohol don’t ride your bike when you’re drunk or hung-over
Listen many trucks are fitted with audible alarms, so don’t let your MP3 player or mobile phone distract you.

By following these five simple tips, cyclists can stay safe, as Jo Tanner of FTA explained:

"Riding a bike can be a cheap way of getting from home to lectures, but it can also be quite dicey, particularly in busy town centres. Although truck drivers are trained to keep an eye out for cyclists, students can help themselves by staying VITAL and knowing their artic from their elbow."

While the number of accidents involving cyclists may be falling, FTA is concerned that cyclists are taking unnecessary risks and putting themselves in danger. University students may be particularly vulnerable, as they may be taking to their bikes for the first time in years as a cheap way to commute. By understanding their own responsibilities when it comes to sharing the road and being aware of other road users, they can significantly reduce their chances of being involved in an accident.

Tanner continued:

"Easy things like making sure you can see a truck’s mirrors or ensuring you’re not in a blind spot at the front of a truck can seriously reduce the risk of an accident, or even a near miss. Students won’t need to shell out hundreds of pounds for new kit: these are really simple tips that don’t cost a thing, but could save someone’s life."

In 2007, the last year for which figures are available, there were 16,607 reported accidents involving bicycles, 146 of which were fatal. There was an overall reduction in accidents involving bicycles of 0.02 per cent in the same year, including a reduction of more than 10 per cent in fatal accidents. It is unclear from official figures how many of these incidents involved trucks or vans.

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