How safe are Crossrail's HGV contractor drivers?
Large numbers of lorry movements forecast for central London in coming years
Crossrail, the project which will see the creation of a new 118km east-west rail link across London including twin-bore 21 km tunnels under the capital, has delivered the 1000th safety awareness training course for its contractor lorry drivers.
It’s a welcome step, given that at its peak, around 300 lorry loads of excavated material will be removed per day by road from central London, with all-too-obvious implications for vulnerable road users in the capital.
Some drivers however, appear to harder to get through to than others. When asked "Has the course raised your awareness of sharing London's roads with vulnerable road users? (Significantly / Only Slightly / Not at all)," 91% of drivers selected 'Significantly'. The other 9% must surely be a cause for concern.
On a more positive note it is encouraging to hear Crossrail confirm that it is a requirement for all contractors' vehicles to be fitted with Fresnel lenses and side scanning equipment, both of which can help save cyclists' lives.
Contractors must also be Bronze members of the TfL Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS).
Crossrail said of that scheme: “Becoming a member means undergoing the scrutiny of an audit and inspection of the safely policies and procedures operating in the company. Crossrail has over 100 companies in its supply chains who are members of the FORS scheme.”
But if the commitment to safety is so strong why not insist that such companies are gold members of the scheme, we asked. After all, cyclists are unlikely to be reassured by the requirement for Bronze membership, the lowest level of the FORS scheme, on learning that Thames Materials, whose driver Dennis Putz was drunk and using a mobile phone when he killed cyclist Catriona Patel, has achieved that standard.
A spokesman for Crossrail said: “FORS members take time to achieve gold membership status. In order to progress from bronze to silver, then onto gold, requires that the company show continuous improvements in several areas using an online performance benchmarking system.
"Crossrail is working very closely with the TfL FORS team to encourage the adoption of best practice in safety and sustainability for companies in its supply chains.”
The company did, however, confirm that Thames Materials is not one of its tier one contractors.
As for vulnerable road users’ ability to report sub-standard, dangerous or aggressive driving by Crossrail haulage contractors, we asked about the ease of identification of vehicles and whether or not there is a central number for reporting poor driving.
Crossrail responded: “Crossrail does not own and operate its own fleet of lorries, the lorries are owned and operated by independent haulage companies and will be liveried vehicles. However frequent Crossrail HGVs delivering to worksites will be displaying a sign which will clearly display the Crossrail logo and the number of the Crossrail contract the vehicle is supporting."
On the use of 0800-number “Well driven?” type signage on contractor vehicles, Crossrail said: “In some cases these companies will have this type of signage as part of their company policy. Also HGVs working for Crossrail may not be doing so exclusively, a concrete mixer for example could make 10 deliveries per day and only a couple may be to a Crossrail worksite. “
Here at road.cc we give credit where it is due to organisations that take the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users seriously.
Crossrail appears to fall into that category but they, like the London cyclists they are hoping to keep safe, will be vulnerable in the coming years to the actions of any rogue HGV drivers in their midst.
The difference being that for the cyclist, the consequences of a dangerously driven Crossrail contractor lorry may be much more serious.