Friday, March 31, 2017

Deadline Looms as London Mayor Aims to Impose Design Restrictions on Road Haulage Vehicles

Consultation Affecting Freight Carriers in the Capital Ends Shortly
Shipping News Feature
UK – Road haulage companies which operate in London are reminded that they have until only 18 April 2017 to respond to the public consultation based around changing the design of HGV cabs to ensure better direct vision for the driver. Whilst this in itself is in no way a contentious issue for most, the attitude of the current mayor seems to indicate he is unaware of how seriously a sudden change in standards would affect the cost of business in the capital.

Our latest article on the subject, written when the consultation was announced, told how the proposals angered road freight representatives which accused Sadiq Kahn of ignorance of how the international nature of vehicle design works and ignoring the major factors in accidents between HGV’s and both cyclists and pedestrians, quoting Transport for London’s (TFL) own research.

Hauliers claim that the attitude of the mayor has meant that, coupled with the changing demands of the Low (LEZ) and Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ), it was impossible to assess exactly what vehicles to invest in, that for those which can actually afford to change their fleets to permissible trucks.

The mayor’s proposed Direct Vision Standard for HGVs, based on a zero to five star rating system to define how much an HGV driver can see directly from each vehicle’s cab, rather than through mirrors or other equipment, he wishes to be a world first. This looks to the transport industry both insular, ill thought out and yet another cash cow for the administration given the impracticality of so many vehicles which enter the capital, both from home and abroad, changing international standards to suit London streets.

Given the administrations fondness for simply imposing a charge when standards change, as with the congestion charge, LEZ etc., and the intention on removing completely from the streets the lowest rated vehicles on the new vision scale by just 2020 and any below three ‘stars’ by 2024, all in the name of safety, this latest change will look to many as no more than a cynical cash cow for TfL and a publicity stunt for the mayor.

Whilst nobody would deny that a zero target for road deaths is an admirable aim, the changes to emission levels achieved through better engine design and a levy on more polluting vehicles, are centred on reducing the estimated 11,500 annual deaths in London now caused by pollution levels unseen in the capital since the 1950’s. In 2010 a study commissioned by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and TfL estimated 9,500 people perished as a direct result of particulate and NO2 in the atmosphere.

Just this week the mayor, in conjunction with his counterpart in Paris, announced a new ‘cleaner vehicle checker’ for cars and with road haulage outfits concentrating on reducing these horrendous pollution statistics through the purchase of the latest Euro standard vehicles, are they now to find these expensive investments scorned by the authorities, the very body whose unilateral change in acceptable standards prompted such huge investments in the first place?