Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Two Freight Conferences Reinforce the Need for Safer, Cleaner Road Haulage Trucks

Police and Industry Work in Harmony to Educate and Regulate
Shipping News Feature

UK – London roads are a main focus for the upcoming Freight Transport Association’s Fleet Engineer Conference, despite the venue, when it takes place on Wednesday 10 June at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham. Both the London Safer Lorry Scheme (SLS) and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be highlighted at the event, both programmes which are likely to be rolled out across the UK if successful. Road haulage trucks, particularly those in the construction industry, have been shown to cause a disproportionate amount of injuries to vulnerable road users in the capital, and older diesel engines produce health harming emissions.

The session on urban commercial vehicle operation will discuss what effect the London SLS will have and where will it go next. Beyond this the growing wider debate regarding safe practices will be reviewed – including enhanced industry standards such as the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety (CLOCS) and Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) projects. On emissions it will review the requirements of the upcoming ULEZ and the likelihood of restrictions in other UK cities.

Cyclists and other potentially vulnerable road users have been the centre of attention of late, and with good reason. Minor changes to HGV construction regulations can improve the chances of survival for anyone unlucky enough to have an accident with a lorry, sometimes however this also demands a major shift in attitude and practice from one or both of those parties involved in such incidents.

On June 2 the Kia Oval, London will host another FTA event, the Managing Freight in London Conference, during which both the SLS and ULEZ will feature alongside other relevant subjects including Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), the use of the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS), Construction Logistics Cycle Safety (CLOCS), Transport for London’s (TfL) work related road risk schemes and targeted enforcement against non-compliant HGVs by the police and DVSA.

Once again the Metropolitan Police will be hosting an ‘Exchanging Places’ event which will be taking place the evening before the conference at The Kia Oval to highlight safe tactics for sharing the roads and giving cyclists the opportunity to see the road from the driver’s seat of a large goods vehicle. The vehicle will be provided by Volvo Trucks which is also sponsoring the one day conference. Already more than 18,000 cyclists have taken part in the scheme, with 97% saying they will change their riding as a result, and 99% offering to recommend it to a friend.

The scheme is thus proving both popular and effective and a complete list of forthcoming events can be seen here. The Met’s Sergeant Simon Castle said:

“We’re proud of what we’re achieving with the Exchanging Places programme and keen to continue its success. However, we are conscious that this issue needs to be addressed from several angles. The Met’s Cycle Safety Team works with Transport for London and local authorities to improve London’s road network. With the Industrial HGV Task Force and Commercial Vehicle Unit, we target unscrupulous and dangerous hauliers and work with the industry to develop better practices, better drivers and safer vehicles. The Freight Transport Association is a key partner in this important work.”

Safer lorries are key to the target of minimising deaths and serious injuries caused by accidents between commercial vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians. To this end in March Transport for London (TfL) supported the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) event at ExCel, where manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, DAF Trucks, Scania, Volvo and MAN showcased new vehicles that reduce deadly blind-spots.

In the five years to 2013 55% of cycling fatalities in the capital involved a HGV, a disproportionate number of which were construction vehicles, these statistics led to the creation of CLOCS. The Mayor and TfL recently announced that the UK’s Safer Lorry Scheme will begin operation in September and will see lorries without safety equipment to protect cyclists and pedestrians banned from the Capital. The Mayor, TfL and Transport & Environment have also successfully lobbied the European Union on the issue of safer HGV designs. As a result, Members of the European Parliament recently voted to allow longer vehicles across the continent paving the way for lower driving cabs and improved direct vision of the driver.

Photo: Note the in cab video display showing quite clearly the cyclist passing on the drivers blind side.