Freight Transport Association: Target rogue lorry operators to improve cycle safety

Lorry operators' trade body says trying to shoehorn safety measures onto rules designed to combat noise at night won't work

by Simon_MacMichael   January 21, 2014  

Cement lorry in London © Simon MacMichael.jpg

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said that it supports efforts to improve the safety of cyclists around lorries, but that local authorities in London are tackling the issue in the wrong way. It says that instead of trying to shoehorn lorry safety features into existing rules regarding lorries operating at night, poor quality lorry operators should be targeted instead.

Last month, London Councils, which represents each of the 32 boroughs in Greater London as well as the City of London, launched a public consultation regarding a proposed change of the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) to require all HGVs operating within it to be fitted with sideguards and additional mirrors.

But the FTA says London Councils is guilty of attempting to impose “regulatory creep” on operators, and points out that the LLCS was designed to regulate night-time deliveries and is therefore inappropriate to tackle safety, which it sees as a separate issue.

Instead, the FTA, which emphasised that it supported the targeting of vehicles not complying with safety regulations under the Metropolitan Police’s recent Operation Safeway, says that the principal way to improve cycle safety where lorries are concerned is to target what it terms “low quality operators.”

Christopher Snelling, FTA’s head of urban logistics and regional policy, said: “FTA takes the view that adding additional requirements to vehicles delivering at night is not the appropriate way to improve safety for cyclists in the Capital.

“Instead London Councils, and the boroughs it consists of, should have looked at updating the Control Scheme, and planning and environmental health requirements, in order to allow quiet deliveries out-of-hours.

“This would enable as many lorries as possible to operate outside the peak hours when most cyclists are on the roads.

“This is an example of regulatory creep. A scheme introduced to deal with one issue – noise – is now being used to deal with another – safety.

“Transport for London still intends to regulate in this area and the Department for Transport is also reviewing requirements. How many bodies need to regulate on one issue?”

“The way to improve safety is to take intelligent, targeted measures that can reduce the number of incidents and their severity. For HGVs, this means focusing on low quality operators who fail to follow current legal safety requirements.”

Launching its consultation last month, London Councils pointed out that while lorries make up 4 per cent of London’s traffic, between 2008 and 2012 such vehicles were involved in 53 per cent of the deaths of cyclists in the capital.

Earlier this month we reported that in the first two months of a Metroplitan Police operation targeting the most dangerous construction lorries 622 out of 821 lorries stopped were being operated illegally - either the lorries were unsafe or the drivers didn't have the necessary licences or insurance to be driving the vehicles. Of the 5,996 lorries stopped last year by the Met's specialist HGV unit only 30 per cent were without either defects to the lorry or irregulariteis in the driver's licence, insurance or hours worked.

These figures can be viewed in two ways. Some will see them as evidence that the majority of lorries on London's roads are unsafe. The FTA would no doubt argue that the police are aleady tasked with targeting rogue operators and unsafe lorries so it's no surprise that the figures are high - they are not stopping a representative sample of London's HGV traffic just those most likely to be breaking the law.

Current European and UK legislation requires most lorries to have side guards and close proximity mirrors fitted, although some types of vehicles are exempt, including cement mixers, some other construction vehicles, waste vehicles and tipper trucks.

London Councils, which says it is also considering restricting lorry movements during morning rush hour, is responsible for the LLCS, which restricts the movement of lorries in excess of 18 to an “excluded route network” between 2100 and 0700 during the week and between 1300 on Saturdays and 0700 on Mondays, unless they have a permit to use other roads at that time.

At the moment, permits are issued for some 56,000 lorries, and London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee says that if additional safety equipment were required to be fitted prior to the issue of a permit, that would mean more lorries having those features installed.

Launching the consultation last month, London Councils’ chair Catherine West, who is also leader of Islington Council, said: “The tragic number of cyclist fatalities in London in recent weeks has heightened concerns about cycle safety, particularly the risk of collisions with lorries.

“There is no valid reason for lorries driving in London not to have basic safety equipment fitted including side guards and extra mirrors.

“Although the London Lorry Control Scheme only operates overnight and at weekends, the benefits of using it to implement cycling safety measures would be far greater as the lorries are used at other times too – very few such vehicles operate only during the day time in the week.

“It is important to reduce the risks to cyclists to encourage Londoners to make more journeys by bike.”

9 user comments

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For HGVs, this means focusing on low quality operators who fail to follow current legal safety requirements.

This kind of crap seems to come from the Haulage industry bodies but according to the Times "Two thirds of lorries stopped by police are defective or being driven illegally":
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3966743.ece

Which suggests to me that the vast majority of operators are "low quality".

posted by johnnytoobad [5 posts]
21st January 2014 - 19:02

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Christopher Snelling, FTA’s head of urban logistics and regional policy, said: “FTA takes the view that adding additional requirements to vehicles delivering at night is not the appropriate way to improve safety for cyclists in the Capital.

Totally agree with you chris.

It should be done to ALL vehicles throughout the UK whether they be used during the day or night.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [482 posts]
21st January 2014 - 20:41

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This is one reason why so much material is transported by road rather than rail, or otherwise.

If so much as one train was found to have a fault or issue there would be a long drawn out inquiry, several million pounds of fines and a very expensive upgrade installed on the rail network. But when it concerns the road the findings are simply ignored, after all can anyone imagine finding out that 2/3 of trains were unfit for the railways, and nothing happening?

If you train driver or pilot was found to be drunk or failing to execute their jobs correctly they would get a serious disciplinary, perhaps lose their job. What we need is far more accountability, and that's only going to happen if larger, more responsible firms being used. The current system where there are many fly-by-night sole-traders or small firms is always going to encourage a race to the bottom with regards to safety. After all they have no concern of being caught by the police and PR isn't an issue for a sole-trader, he'll simply start again with a new company name.

posted by GREGJONES [90 posts]
21st January 2014 - 21:05

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Current European and UK legislation requires most lorries to have side guards and close proximity mirrors fitted, although some types of vehicles are exempt, including cement mixers, some other construction vehicles, waste vehicles and tipper trucks.

So the daft bastards exempted the exact vehicles that are now killing people on London's roads, Why? I suspect because the relevant people complained about the cost.

posted by kie7077 [353 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:51

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When I worked in construction I had to be vetted before I worked as a subcontractor to the contractor to the housing association.

The construction firms should be doing the same, every time a driver is caught without the correct license etc, the firm hiring them - the firm who's load they are carrying should be fined heavily.

posted by kie7077 [353 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:55

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I have to say the FTA has a point. It is notable how many of the same types of heavy vehicles, tipper trucks and skip lorries, are involved in serious incidents involving cyclists and other road users as well.

I've been close to the construction sector for many years and I know a lot of the firms running tipper trucks and skip lorries are not well run and some border on the fringes of legality (or even go right over the edges). I won't name names for legal reasons. It's no surprise given the way they hire drivers and (fail to) maintain the vehicles that there are so many crashes.

The figure for the number of vehicles stopped by the police relates to the percentage of suspect vehicles stopped. The police didn't stop all HGVs, only the the ones suspected of being faulty.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 0:05

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As I understand it -- though I might have been misinformed or be misremembering -- there is quite a clear division in the trucking world.

The FTA largely represents the very large firms doing nice clean secure jobs: companies like Stobart that have large fleets with long-term contracts for things like supermarkets.

Meanwhile, the quieter Road Haulage Association (RHA) is the one that represents the smaller companies and one-man owner-operator outfits who typically do the more dirty jobs like construction and waste on insecure by-the-load contracts in a dog-eat-dog race-to-the-bottom market.

I'm told there's been plenty of squabbling between them in the past, and that if you think the roads lobby is powerful now you should be petrified of their ever solving their infighting. So I'm guessing the FTA's "low-quality operators" remark is intended as a reference to RHA members. You can almost see the FTA's point -- it's true that it's disproportionately the small outfits doing construction and waste jobs that are killing people. I'd be pretty embarrassed to be sharing an industry with them too.

posted by Joe Dunckley [9 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 22:36

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Joe Dunckley wrote:
As I understand it -- though I might have been misinformed or be misremembering -- there is quite a clear division in the trucking world.

The FTA largely represents the very large firms doing nice clean secure jobs: companies like Stobart that have large fleets with long-term contracts for things like supermarkets.

Meanwhile, the quieter Road Haulage Association (RHA) is the one that represents the smaller companies and one-man owner-operator outfits who typically do the more dirty jobs like construction and waste on insecure by-the-load contracts in a dog-eat-dog race-to-the-bottom market.

I'm told there's been plenty of squabbling between them in the past, and that if you think the roads lobby is powerful now you should be petrified of their ever solving their infighting. So I'm guessing the FTA's "low-quality operators" remark is intended as a reference to RHA members. You can almost see the FTA's point -- it's true that it's disproportionately the small outfits doing construction and waste jobs that are killing people. I'd be pretty embarrassed to be sharing an industry with them too.

There's no almost about it. The small one man and a dog outfits have a terrible record. And I've seen pretty closely how some of those firms are run. Of all the fatal truck/HGV incidents in London, not one has involved a large articulated lorry for instance. Big firms like Stobart or the supermarkets like Tesco's and Sainsbury's hire the best drivers and ensure they're trained, while the trucks are properly maintained too.

As a rule of thumb, if a truck looks like an old knacker, keep your distance. If it's been freshly cleaned, it says a lot as to how the firm presents its image, even if the vehicle is old. And that extends to the way the trucks are driven and maintained.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 22:46

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OldRidgeback wrote:
I have to say the FTA has a point. It is notable how many of the same types of heavy vehicles, tipper trucks and skip lorries, are involved in serious incidents involving cyclists and other road users as well.

Who lobbied for the exceptions to begin with though, like tipper trucks and skips being exempt? The FTA? That's my guess...

Yes, they may have a point on saying to go after the rogue operators, but they're at the same time lobbying for a legislative environment that allows them to operate.

Fine the people hiring the rogue operators heavily, and use corporate manslaughter legislation to go after the lorry owners. At least that's my opinion.

posted by jacknorell [168 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 23:25

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