Cyclists in London have been given their first chance to swap places with a truck driver in an attempt to spread understanding and increase safety.

The Exchanging Places programme aims to address the most common cause of death and serious injury to cyclists: collisions with HGV vehicles.

The latest move in the initiative, which has been running since 2007, features a police-liveried Mercedes-Benz Actros lorry.

Cyclists are invited up into the cabin to get a first-hand impression of how little a truck driver can see.

The idea is that riders will be able to take the new knowledge into account when they ride close to large vehicles.

The Actros, supplied by Sparshatts of Kent with the backing of Mercedes-Benz UK, costs the police nothing except fuel and is driven only by fully-trained police drivers. It will not be used for enforcement.

Sergeant Simon Castle, roads and transport policing command, said: "We are grateful to Mercedes-Benz and Sparshatts of Kent for supplying us with this vehicle, which is perfect for our Exchanging Places programme.

"The feedback from these events is overwhelmingly positive with 97% of cyclists saying they would change their riding as a result of sitting in the driver's seat, and 99% per cent would recommend it to a friend.

"I urge cyclists to watch the Exchanging Places film on the MPS YouTube website and also arrange to attend an Exchanging Places event. It is invaluable and a potential life saver."

Andrew Sparshatt, dealer principal, said: "This admirable initiative addresses a major issue for the truck industry, particularly in urban areas - that of cyclist safety.

"The Actros looks stunning in its Metropolitan Police livery and will, I feel sure, be an invaluable aid to Sgt Simon Castle and his colleagues in helping them to increase awareness among cyclists of what HGV drivers can - and more importantly cannot - see from their cabs."