Safer Lorry Scheme to go further as ban on unsafe HGVs starts

30 November 2015
  • Mayor hails success of scheme to fit safety equipment to HGVs in London
  • “Direct-vision” cab-door windows and new use of planning powers are next steps


HGVs without safety equipment to protect cyclists and pedestrians are banned throughout Greater London from today under Britain’s first “Safer Lorry Scheme”.

As of this morning, vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes entering London must be fitted with sideguards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision, along with Class V and Class VI mirrors to give the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, hailed the success of the scheme – which has already seen the vast majority of HGVs in London fitting the equipment as operators move to comply – and announced it would now go further.

The Mayor said: “We are ahead of any other part of the UK in closing the legal loopholes that allowed many HGVs to operate without basic safety equipment, and I am delighted that over the 18 months since we announced the Safer Lorry Scheme the vast majority of operators have got the message and fitted safety equipment to their vehicles in anticipation of the ban.

“We have, from this morning, begun vigorous enforcement action against the laggards. A very disproportionate share of cyclist deaths and serious injuries are caused by lorries, and today’s scheme will undoubtedly save lives.

“But this big step forward is only one element of my work to protect cyclists and pedestrians from lorries. I announce today that I propose to require further safety modifications to all HGVs in London, including the retrofitting of bigger side windows to further reduce the driver blind spots that contribute to so many tragic accidents.”    

Bigger side windows, in the lower panel of the cab door, give the driver direct vision of any cyclist who may be alongside them, and can be fitted to most lorries for around £1000.

In January the Mayor will consult on the principle of the scheme and the best way to enforce the new windows – whether through the Safer Lorry Scheme, the Low Emission Zone regulations or changes to the congestion charge. This consultation will be complete and a decision taken before the Mayoral election. In parallel, work will be done with cycling groups, vehicle manufacturers and the freight industry to develop a technical ‘direct vision standard’ so the windows are legally enforceable.  It is hoped to have this work completed by March or April.

In the meantime, as soon as the work can be physically completed, it will be ensured that such windows are fitted to all vehicles undertaking work for TfL, Crossrail, or any other member of the Greater London Authority (GLA) family.

Extensive trials are also now being undertaken at the Transport Research Laboratory of a variety of electronic sensors for lorries, aiming to alert drivers to cyclists’ presence. If it is shown that any of these devices offers significant and consistent benefits, it may also be required for them to be fitted to lorries in London.

Many of the most dangerous vehicles are construction-related. For future major construction projects, GLA planning powers will be used to strictly prescribe the routes which HGVs serving them can follow – requiring, for instance, that they avoid a road heavily used by cyclists or take a route that minimises the number of left turns, the most dangerous manoeuvre. Discussions with the London boroughs and the construction industry have already started to ensure that this happens as fast as possible.    

The Safer Lorry Scheme introduced today, developed with London Councils, covers every road in Greater London, except motorways, and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will be enforced by the police, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the joint Transport for London and Department for Transport-funded Industrial HGV Taskforce (IHTF). The maximum fine for each breach of the ban will be £1000. Repeat offenders may also be referred to the relevant Traffic Commissioner, who is responsible for the licensing and regulation of HGV operators.

HGVs are disproportionately represented in cyclist fatalities in the capital. Of the eight deaths so far this year, seven have involved HGVs.

The Safer Lorry Scheme is part of the Mayor’s £913 million Vision for Cycling, which includes new segregated superhighways, safer junctions, and backstreet Quietway routes.

Notes to editors

Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP will mark the launch of Britain’s first Safer Lorry Scheme on September 1. A number of safer lorries will be on display at Marble Arch from 9:30am and the Mayor will outline ways in which the scheme will be developed in the future. He will see for himself a lorry that features the new requirements, as well as two vehicles with improved cab vision that show the long-term aspirations for all lorries on London’s roads.

Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan, Transport for London’s (TfL’s) managing director for surface transport Leon Daniels and Ian Wainwright, TfL’s head of Freight and Fleet, will also be in attendance.

Media will also have the opportunity to film an enforcement exercise on Park Lane by London's Industrial HGV Taskforce (IHTF).

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