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TfL & London Councils team up for consultation on UK's first "Safer Lorries Scheme"

The scheme is now being consulted on by Transport for London (TfL) and the London Councils and could be introduced by early next year. 

The proposed ban will require every vehicle in London over 3.5 tonnes, which are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal collisions with cyclists and pedestrians, to be fitted with sideguards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision.

It will also require them to be fitted with mirrors giving the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles.   ‪

The ban would operate across London 24 hours a day, seven days a week, covering the same area as the London Low Emission Zone. It would be enforced by on-street enforcement and, in the future, could move to CCTV cameras subject to further approval by the Department for Transport and London boroughs.   ‪

The announcement comes as Sainsbury's unveiled their new delivery vehicle for London, which is fitted with a range of safety features including extended sideguards and a 360 degree proximity camera.  

The Mayor of London, 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.’

In response, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said that it welcomes the changes that have been made in improving the design of the London Safer Lorry Scheme (SLS), however it still believes that the blanket regulations of this type have their limitations and that other approaches would have better results in improving cyclist safety.

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.’

FTA welcomed the inclusion of some specific exemptions for certain types of vehicles that would not be suited to these pieces of equipment. For example some smaller vehicles are not able to fit the mirrors suggested, as at that height they would be against the law due to danger to pedestrians. 

However, further concessions are needed to make sure the requirements are in line with current UK and EU new build lorry requirements.  The current proposals still have the potential to disrupt important traffic that is not highly represented in cyclist fatalities, such as container movements.

Overall the FTA said that it still believes that the best way forward on HGVs and cyclist safety is a more targeted approach than this type of blanket regulation allows.   The best use of Transport for London’s time and money as regards HGVs would be to maintain a higher level of enforcement against poor quality operators who break the existing laws, and FTA will again recommend that approach to TfL in its response.

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.”

Overall FTA still believes that the best way forward on HGVs and cyclist safety is a more targeted approach than this type of blanket regulation allows.   The best use of Transport for London’s time and money as regards HGVs would be to maintain a higher level of enforcement against poor quality operators who break the existing laws, and FTA will again recommend that approach to TfL in its response.

Snelling concluded: ‘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.’

The Safer Lorries Scheme consultation will remain open until 22 September. For more information please visit tfl.gov.uk/safer-lorries

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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