Figures released by Transport for London today reveal that almost three in four lorries stopped by police in the capital do not comply with the law, including legislation relating to safety – a figure that Sustrans has described as “shocking.”
Issued by TfL on a day when a woman aged 26 became the eighth London cyclist to be killed on the city’s streets so far this year, with lorries involved in all but one of those fatal incidences, the data paint a stark picture of the level of non-compliance with the law on the part of vehicle operators.
Officers from the City of London Police Commercial Vehicle Unit, which was set up in May with funding from TfL, found that in its first month of operation, 95 of the 136 lorries stopped had to be taken off the road for non-compliance or safety reasons.
TfL says that issues identified included lack of insurance, driving without the appropriate licence, with unsafe tyres or an unsafe load, and not accurately recording driver hours.
It added that the operation is “targeted” and “intelligence led,” suggesting that the finding that such a high proportion of vehicles were found to be in breach of the law may in part reflect that only certain vehicles were stopped, and is not therefore representative of all lorries.
Nevertheless, Sustrans has said that even where operators do adhere to the law, lorries still present a danger, and has called for restrictions to be placed on them in London.
The sustainable transport charity’s deputy director for London, Matt Winfield, said: “It is important and challenging to move freight in this city, but the level of non-compliance with quite basic safety standards is shocking.’
“But even when HGVs are fully compliant with current safety regulations they are still dangerous vehicles to share the roads with.’
“Restrictions on how and where HGVs operate in the capital, as well as enforcement of safety standards and junctions designed to be safe for all users, are urgently required.”
The new City of London Police unit is working alongside the Metropolitan Police’s Commercial Vehicle Unit and the Industrial HGV Task Force, and along with them will help enforce the city’s Safer Lorry Scheme that comes into effect on 1 September.
TfL says it has also helped set up a new Freight Compliance Unit which will work alongside agencies such as the Office of the Transport Commissioner, and which it says will work “to ensure there is a coordinated, intelligence-led approach to taking non-compliant HGV drivers, vehicles and operators off the Capital's roads.”
TfL's director of enforcement and on-street operations, Steve Burton, said: “The newly formed City of London Police Commercial Vehicle Unit will help us go further in targeting the most dangerous HGVs and taking them off our roads.
“Our enforcement activity is targeted at improving road safety, and alongside our policing partners, we will be using all of our powers and intelligence networks to ensure vehicles that are not safe and compliant will no longer be able to operate.”
Inspector David Aspinall of City of London Police Inspector, commented: “The new Commercial Vehicle Unit is committed to making the City of London a safer place for people to come visit, work and live.
“The team will target those operators and vehicles within the commercial sector who do not comply with the regulations in place that are designed for the safety of others.
“'Working with Transport for London and the DVSA has already shown the benefits of a true partnership approach to dealing with Operators who are prepared to take risks with the safety of others.
“We look forward to developing this partnership further and working more closely with key stakeholders to encourage operators to become compliant or remove them from the road.”
TfL also confirmed details of the numbers of vehicles stopped during May, level of non-compliance and actions taken for each of the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police units and the Industrial HGV Task Force as follows:
May results for the MPS Commercial Vehicle Unit:
752 vehicles stopped, with 71 per cent being non-compliant
72 Roadworthiness Prohibitions issued
184 Fixed Penalty Notices
24 vehicles seized
May results for the Industrial HGV Task Force:
199 vehicles stopped, with 82 per cent being non-compliant
119 Roadworthiness Prohibitions issued
61 Fixed Penalty Notices
7 vehicles seized
May results for the City of London Police Commercial Vehicle Unit:
136 vehicles stopped, with 70 per cent being non-compliant
28 Roadworthiness Prohibitions issued
60 Fixed Penalty Notices.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.