Sunday, August 3, 2014

Consultation on Safer Lorries Prompts Comment and Action from Freight and Road Haulage Interests

More Targeted Approach Required to Better Cyclist Safety
Shipping News Feature

UK – Despite widespread acceptance of the changes made in an attempt to improve the design of the London Safer Lorry Scheme (SLS), not everybody concerned is entirely happy that all that could be done, has been done and last week the Freight Transport Association (FTA) spoke out to express the concerns of the road haulage industry. Meanwhile the consultation process for the scheme remains open until September 22.

Larger groups have taken a pro-active attitude with Sainsbury’s for example launching its new delivery vehicle for London, which is fitted with a range of safety features including extended sideguards and a 360 degree proximity camera and the FTA has welcomed the inclusion of some specific exemptions for certain types of vehicles that would not be suited to otherwise mandatory pieces of equipment. For example some smaller vehicles are not able to fit the mirrors suggested in the scheme, as at the height specified they would be against the law due to danger to pedestrians. Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics Policy, commented:

“Good progress has been made since the concept was announced last September. We have moved away from a £200 a day charging scheme and now some of the necessary exemptions have been incorporated in to the SLS proposals.”

The Safer Lorries Scheme will use a combination of powers held by Transport for London (TfL) and London Boroughs to enforce regulations intended to deliver a simple, quick and complete solution to the problem of truck related cycling accidents across all London roads. Trucks over 3.5 tonnes will need to be fitted with sideguards to avoid running over bicycles and mirrors sufficient to give a clear view of cyclists. Initially enforced on the street as a criminal offence the 24/7, seven day a week ban on non-compliant vehicles may latterly be policed by CCTV and offenders will face civil proceedings and heavy fines.

The main concerns of the FTA are that it believes further concessions are needed to make sure the requirements are in line with current UK and EU new build lorry requirements and that a more targeted approach is needed rather than blanket legislation. Snelling added:

“We are always concerned about new regulatory instruments being created, their compliance and enforcement costs, and how politicians might decide to change or extend these powers in the future. Safety on the roads is a complex issue and politicians often reach for the simplistic solution. There is no one magic solution to safety on our roads. Unless everyone involved takes intelligent action, the problem will not improve as much as we all want.”

Sainsbury’s, and companies such as waste disposal group O’Donovan have pre-empted legislation, not only fitting all the anticipated safety equipment but regularly taking part in educational projects such as the Metropolitan Police’s ongoing Exchanging Places scheme and announcing the consultation, London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, said:

"I have long been worried that a large number of cyclist deaths involve a relatively small number of problem lorries which are not fitted with safety equipment. My Safer Lorries Scheme would see those lorries effectively banned from our streets and the lives of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians would be much safer as a result. Vehicles that would be affected by this scheme can easily be retrofitted to comply and doing so will save lives. Companies such as Sainsbury's and O'Donovan are already leading the way when it comes to cyclist safety and I urge others to follow suit."