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London introduces new safer lorry scheme

Blog 30th March 2015

It is common knowledge that as the number of cyclists on London’s roads continues to grow, there has been an increase in reported collisions between cyclists and other road users. In an effort to improve road safety, the Mayor of London, Transport for London and the London Borough Councils have combined forces to find ways to reduce the number of accidents on the Capital’s roads.

Alongside plans to reconfigure 33 of the capital’s most dangerous junctions and provide a network of ‘Quietways’ and segregated cycle routes; one of the proposed solutions recently unveiled was the Safer Lorry Scheme (“the Scheme”).

The new Scheme will come into force on 1 September 2015, as soon as the 600 warning signs on roads leading to the Safer Lorry Zone are in place. Once in force the Scheme will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and cover every road in Greater London’s 32 boroughs and the city of London (except for motorways); the same area covered by the Low Emission Zone. The Scheme is being launched on the back of a public consultation in which 90% of respondents were in favour of such reforms.

To be allowed to enter this regulated area lorries will have to be fitted out with basic safety equipment. Most vehicles that are currently exempt from being fitted will have to be retrofitted, including construction vehicles.

Vehicles over 3.5 tones will be required to:

  • be fitted with Class V and Class VI mirrors giving the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles; and,
  • be fitted with side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision.

The Scheme will be enforced by the Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police, the DVSA and the joint TfL and DfT-funded Industrial HGV Taskforce (IHTF). Drivers found to be non- compliant may face the following sanctions:

  • £50 Fixed Penalty Notice;
  • Charged with an offence that carried a potential fine of £1000 in the Magistrate’s court.
  • A referral to the relevant Traffic Commissioner, who is responsible for the licensing and regulation of HGV operator and can therefore suspend or modify operators’ licenses.

Whilst the Scheme will have a widespread applicability, it is expected that the initial focus will be on construction vehicles as most HGVs are already required to fit some safety elements such side guards. If the Scheme is successful it is likely that the focus of improving cycle safety will shift to London’s numerous buses.

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