Friday, February 6, 2015

Safety Regulations for Trucks will be Even More Draconian from September

Cyclists and Pedestrians Need Protection says Boris
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils have given the go-ahead for a London-wide ban on any truck over 3.5 tonnes (GVW) not fitted with the proper safety equipment to protect cyclists and pedestrians. The Safer Lorry Scheme, which received an overwhelming 90% support from last year’s public consultation, will come into force on September 1 and will cover all roads in Greater London, except motorways. Any road haulage operator found to be in breach of the Scheme will also face a maximum fine of £1,000 per offence, and be referred for consideration to the relevant Traffic Commissioner. Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London's Transport Commissioner, said:

“The essential role that freight plays in any city is vast, and none more so than London. Equally vital is ensuring that we can all safely use our roads and this is why I am pleased to announce the launch of the country's first Safer Lorry Scheme. London's lead in improving the safety and efficiency of freight has once again been demonstrated. The Safer Lorry Scheme is a fantastic example of the benefits of partnership working. The rogue minority of HGVs that operate on our roads without effective basic safety equipment will be forced to improve or be banned. This will save lives and ensure a level playing field for operators.”

HGVs are disproportionately represented in cyclist fatalities in the capital, with TfL statistics showing that of the 14 cyclist deaths in London in 2013, nine involved HGVs. Although the number of serious collisions involving cyclists and HGVs in 2014 decreased, it remains one of TfL's key commitments to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in London by 40% over the next five years.

In assessing the final details of the Scheme, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has stated that compliance costs to industry have been minimised by TfL's sensible approach to its implementation, but still considers that this has not necessarily been the best way of improving cyclist safety. FTA's Head of Policy for London Natalie Chapman commented:

“FTA is pleased to see that the necessary exemptions and concessions for the vehicles for which this equipment is either not possible or not legal have been included within the requirements of the London Safer Lorry Scheme. However, in principle we believe that this kind of blunt regulatory tool is not the best way to improve cyclist safety. We still think that the money and effort spent on this scheme would have been better spent on increased enforcement against the small proportion of lorries that don't comply with existing regulations."

The FTA now advises all operators to ensure that any lorry that may need to access Great London in future has sideguards, to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision, and Class V and VI mirrors fitted before September unless it is subject to one of the remaining exemptions or concessions.

According to TfL, vehicles affected by the Safer Lorry Scheme can easily be retrofitted to comply, with side guards that can be fitted from approximately £500 and blind spot safety mirrors approximately £300 per mirror. The Safer Lorry Scheme requirements have been a prerequisite for the soon-to-be nationwide Freight Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS) Bronze award since early last year.

The Safer Lorry Scheme will be enforced by the police, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the joint TfL-funded Industrial HGV Taskforce. Ahead of the ban, TfL are working to install around 600 road signs at the London boundary, train police officers and are spearheading information campaigns with drivers and hauliers. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

“Improving the safety of London's roads is a top priority. We know that a large number of cyclist deaths and serious injuries involve a relatively small number of trucks and lorries that are not fitted with basic safety equipment. Such vehicles are not welcome in the capital and the Safer Lorry Scheme will see them effectively banned from our streets. The lives of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians will be much safer as a result and I urge all operators of HGVs to get on board and make it a success.”

Simultaneously drivers are warned that from Monday 9 February until spring 2016, phased work will be undertaken to upgrade Barclays Cycle Superhighway 2 in east London to provide segregated cycle lanes as part of the Road Modernisation Plan. The work will take place on the A11, between Aldgate and Bow roundabout and this and surrounding roads are therefore expected to be even busier than usual.

Photo: Protection for cyclists is not a new idea.