In 2011-12 the number of rip-cops across the UK declined by 2 per cent, compared to a 5.4 per cent decrease in the previous year. Most of this reduction was in rural areas.
“We’re not sure whether this is because of a change in the weather pattern, or the availability of fuel for the haulage industry,” Ms Duxbury said. “We’ll see in 2012 what happens next.”
What has it got to do with me?
The rip-cops are a hazard for both cyclists and truck drivers.
One survey by the Roads Agency found that 62 per cent of truck drivers had had injuries (either serious enough to need hospital treatment or minor enough to be handled), compared with 25 per cent of cyclists. It was the second-highest rate of injury for all of the vehicle fleets surveyed.
The rip-cops are also dangerous to pedestrians. They hit pedestrians on the road, and it is not uncommon for injuries and deaths to result from collisions with the rip-cops or their tyres. One survey carried out by the Department for Transport found that 18 per cent of pedestrians on roads hit by cyclists would be in a better state if they had not been to the roadside.
Another survey by the Department for Transport (DfT) found that two-thirds of pedestrians hurt while crossing the street by a vehicle at the end of the street had the wrong foot planted. These pedestrians need to be held firmly and not allowed to drop the leg.
Injuries to truck driver have risen considerably over the last decade. In 2011, 14,100 drivers were injured by collisions with the vehicles, and 17 per cent of these were serious. That is up more than 12 per cent on 2009 figures.
How do they work?
Rip-cops are usually made of polystyrene – the same material used for road markings. The vehicle must be able to pass through the rip-cops without rolling downhill and striking an obstacle. For an initial cost of £1 and 20 minutes’ maintenance, it is cheaper to repair than a heavy-duty truck.
If the wheel slips or contacts something, the vehicle brakes hard. But since there’s much less space between the wheel and anything that could cause injury or death, there is less braking.
“We use high-strength steel, so the wheels don’t actually break, but rather they simply get stuck,” Ms Duxbury said. “They
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