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Cyclists' safety at risk as government considers using Brexit "freedoms" to ditch EU car safety measures

The regulations under threat include Direct Vision Standard – a requirement for buses and lorries to be built with better visibility for drivers looking for cyclists and pedestrians

Britain may use Brexit "freedoms" to ditch planned EU car safety regulations designed to better protect pedestrians and cyclists, the government has said.

While the UK was part of plans to draw up General Safety Regulations, aiming for higher safety standards for cars and lorries, ministers have now hinted they could "capitalise on our regulatory freedoms" to backtrack on implementing the measures.

The regulations include Direct Vision Standard (DVS), hailed as a "world-first for lorry safety" by Transport for London (TfL) when it came into effect in March 2021, before subsequently being adopted by the EU.

> “World-first for lorry safety” as Transport for London's Direct Vision Standard comes into effect

DVS is part of Sadiq Khan's Vision Zero strategy, and requires operators of HGVs to meet safety requirements or face fines.

HGVs of 12 tonnes and above are assigned ratings between 0 and 5 stars depending on how much the driver is able to see out of the cab.

Operators of vehicles assigned 0 stars are required to fit safety features, including cameras covering blind spots, an audible warning when turning left, motion sensors covering the sides of the vehicle at low speeds and a prominent warning on the rear of the vehicle.

But DVS, a requirement to build buses and lorries better designed for drivers to see vulnerable road users, is part of the plans ministers now see in the Brexit "freedoms" firing line.

Asked whether the UK would go ahead with the regulations, transport minister Trudy Harrison insisted no decision had been made.

In answer to a parliamentary question on the issue, transport minister Ms Harrison said: "The package of European measures known as the General Safety Regulation includes vehicle construction requirements covering pedestrian safety and a range of additional new technologies.

"The Department for Transport was involved in developing these requirements, but as they apply from July 2022 it will be for the Government to decide whether to mandate the same systems in GB. No decision has yet been taken.

"The UK’s departure from the EU provides Government with the platform to capitalise on our regulatory freedoms. The vehicle safety provisions included in the EU's General Safety Regulation are currently under consideration. Government will implement requirements that are appropriate for GB and where they improve road safety."

And while the measures were finalised when Britain was still part of the EU, because they are being phased in they do not automatically apply.

Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrats' transport spokesperson criticised the possible scrapping of safety regulations.

"I'm sure that when the Tories promised to 'take back control' people didn't think it meant more dangerous roads and less safe cars," she said.

Requirements for cars and vans to have advanced emergency braking systems, more comprehensive crash tests, and design changes to prevent head injuries for cyclists and pedestrians are also part of the plans now in doubt.

Jason Wakeford, head of campaigns at Brake, the road safety charity, told The Independent how significant the regulations could be: "The EU proposals, which the UK helped to shape prior to Brexit, provide the biggest leap forward for road safety this century - perhaps even since the introduction of the seat belt.

"We urge the UK Government to commit to adopting these lifesaving regulations, helping reduce needless deaths and serious injuries on British roads."

Interim chief executive of Living Streets Stephen Edwards added: "If we want people to choose cleaner and healthier ways to travel, then we need to improve safety. This means the highest standards for vehicle safety alongside measures that protect pedestrians, including lower speed limits, more effective crossings and better street maintenance."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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50 comments

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
3 likes

Good news everyone - just heard that Jacob Rees-Mogg will be on the case as Brexit Opportunities minister.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes

A postillion on every motor-carriage?

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Bungle_52 replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
0 likes

Opportunities for whom?

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hawkinspeter replied to Bungle_52 | 2 years ago
4 likes
Bungle_52 wrote:

Opportunities for whom?

Well, it's either going to be for the hard-working people of Britain, or possibly anyone who has lots of money and wants more, no matter who it hurts.

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Simon_MacMichael replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
3 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

Good news everyone - just heard that Jacob Rees-Mogg will be on the case as Brexit Opportunities minister.

Here's a picture of him about to head off to his first day in the new job this morning ...

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hawkinspeter replied to Simon_MacMichael | 2 years ago
1 like
Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Here's a picture of him about to head off to his first day in the new job this morning ...

Well, he doesn't need to get there quickly does he?

Rees-Mogg wrote:

We won’t know the full economic consequences for a very long time. The overwhelming opportunity for Brexit is over the next 50 years.

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chrisonabike replied to Simon_MacMichael | 2 years ago
4 likes
Simon_MacMichael wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

Good news everyone - just heard that Jacob Rees-Mogg will be on the case as Brexit Opportunities minister.

Here's a picture of him about to head off to his first day in the new job this morning ...

Fake news! Everyone knows he never goes off without his nanny:

 

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JustTryingToGet... replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
1 like

The perfect pairing of role and individual.

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reefknot | 2 years ago
0 likes

I doubt this is going to happen in practice. Manufacturers are unlikely to remove safety features that would be required in other jurisdictions. Selling a 'less safe' versions of a car would be a marketing challenge! Higher insurance premiums anyone?

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 2 years ago
6 likes

Its such a double speak this 'freedom'. Before Brexit UK citizens had the freedom to live, work, invest, study, buy property, start up a business, export, import, sell services all across the EU. Now that's all gone and there are huge queues of lorries at the ports becuase of the huge amount of paperwork that DID NOT need to be filled in when everyone in the UK was free to move around the EU. What is this 'freedom' you speak of? 

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hawkinspeter replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 2 years ago
7 likes
Lukas wrote:

Its such a double speak this 'freedom'. Before Brexit UK citizens had the freedom to live, work, invest, study, buy property, start up a business, export, import, sell services all across the EU. Now that's all gone and there are huge queues of lorries at the ports becuase of the huge amount of paperwork that DID NOT need to be filled in when everyone in the UK was free to move around the EU. What is this 'freedom' you speak of? 

Freedom to have parties?

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chrisonabike replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 2 years ago
6 likes

Freedom to bang on about the ills of Europe in the media without being labelled as a "swivel-eyed loon"?

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Eton Rifle | 2 years ago
8 likes

This is just Johnson's latest attempt to salvage a "benefit" from the disaster that Brexshit clearly is.

Over half the cars manufactured in the UK are exported to the EU. Does anyone think that UK car manufacturers are going operate a dual safety standards regime?

This government is fucking stupid.

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lonpfrb | 2 years ago
0 likes

Road safety is not only about the vehicles, or even the highway. Industry best practice, required for major construction sites is to have a transport plan for all modes, including the yellow plant and HGV deliveries of materials on site. Construction vehicles being over represented in KSI stats, it's a good thing to combine the recent improvements in HGV visibility and the practical measures required to improve safety for vehicles that aren't yet covered.

Better safety on site, and between factory and site.

Probably not limited by EU membership, just an example of faster change under local initiative.

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grumpyoldcyclist | 2 years ago
10 likes

I think this may be just a diversionary tactic. On the one hand it is put out that they are supporting 'the hard pressed mptprist', whilst implicitly blaming the EU for being at fault for everything. All the while trying to divert attention from the 'Big Liar's' antics.

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Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
8 likes

I'm really not sure how saving a few £thousand on the cost of a new HGV or PSV is going to make any difference to fleet operators over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Private vehicles however? No-one buys a car on its NCAP rating for pedestrians or cyclists. Given the choice between an extra pedestrian airbag or spending more on fancy wheels or body coloured wing mirrors, I bet I can guess what most people would prioritise.

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JustTryingToGet... | 2 years ago
1 like

I'm waited to see with baited breath how Brexit will free us from pesky health and safety requirements and workers rights, allowing us to be leaner and more profitable in manufacturing, whilst simultaneously not having down grades health and safety and diminishing workers rights.

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chrisonabike replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 2 years ago
1 like
JustTryingToGetFromAtoB wrote:

I'm waited to see with baited breath how Brexit will free us from pesky health and safety requirements and workers rights, allowing us to be leaner and more profitable in manufacturing, whilst simultaneously not having down grades health and safety and diminishing workers rights.

I don't doubt that even though we seemed to follow some EU standards slavishly we could have managed a bit of that regardless of Brexit.

I think it's quite likely that some things will be "more relaxed" in the future.  I'd much prefer it if we did better.  Practically though I'm not envisioning I'll need to up and apply for a job as a taxi driver in Romania or a cargo cyclist in Poland for reasons of health and safety for a while yet.

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swldxer replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 2 years ago
3 likes

bated breath

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JustTryingToGet... replied to swldxer | 2 years ago
6 likes

😁 definitely baited in relation to Brexit. Or should that be defiantly baited.

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Miller | 2 years ago
12 likes

This ISN'T a non-story. Away from the public-facing bullshit peddled by Brexit charlatans like the fat liar, the brexiters, ie tories, always wanted to tear up public safety regulations. That's what the millionaires in the cabinet regard as a 'win' for business. Rip up protections to increase profit. Bear in mind that they are the people who overwhelmingly receive business profit, and overwhelmingly not the peons whose lives are consumed in low-quality work generating those profits.

 

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peted76 | 2 years ago
4 likes

On one hand, I think this has every possibility of becoming the next 300 post monster!

On the other, sense may prevail and we 'might' see this for the non-story it is before going see razee about it. 

If we did dump some saftey rules that we literally had a big hand in devising I'm quite sure it would not mean that all of a sudden our roads will become more dangerous OR that there'd be two two types of the same car on UK forecourts...  it might be as simple as we''ll implement all the changes, but aren't prepared to subsidise the EU's car safety club anymore?

It doesn't look like those questions have been asked yet..  patience.. or we can all just blame the tories.. and Jim Radclifffe obvs.. that's what normally happens.

 

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wycombewheeler replied to peted76 | 2 years ago
7 likes

I don't see motor manufacturers developing different models for the UK market which do not meet the european safety regs.

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lesterama replied to peted76 | 2 years ago
8 likes

Believe me, vehicle regulation is far, far more complex than you think. There are discussions galore between member states across all type approval areas. We are heading slowly toward global harmonisation. No manufacturers will be interested in different standards for the UK market. 

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lonpfrb replied to lesterama | 2 years ago
0 likes
lesterama wrote:

We are heading slowly toward global harmonisation. No manufacturers will be interested in different standards for the UK market.

What has a single Euro vehicle standard done for us?

Under member states subsidiary it was possible for the northern states to set appropriate rules for winter tyres and 'daytime' running lights DRL. States further south could work with different DRL arrangements, e.g. side lights, when required.

This was both appropriate for northern states with 8 months of dusk to darkness, and southern states with vulnerable road users who need to make themselves seen with portable lights.

The introduction of a Euro standard for DRL meant that all member states got new vehicles with bright DRL regardless of need. So vulnerable road users needs were put below the alleged manufacturing advantage of a single design. Otherwise known as One Size Fits All.

This is political meddling because the behaviour of lights in a modern vehicle are controlled by software not hardware. The CAN bus provides sensing and control to all parts of the vehicle. So country based settings are only a software configuration that can be set as part of the pre-delivery inspection i.e. by the dealer.

Sorry cyclists but you don't matter as much as our true masters, the car manufacturers.

That's a lie to be challenged.

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Jem PT | 2 years ago
5 likes

Whilst this clearly sounds a retro-grade step, I can't imagine manufacturers would go to the trouble of deigning/engineering vehicles that comply with the EU regs and then spend further money on down-grading to suit the (possibly lower) UK regs? The newer truck cabs that comply with the Direct Vision Standards can be seen on the streets of London - dust carts, scaffold trucks, etc. and they are quite a different design from the previous low-vis truck cabs. 

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mdavidford replied to Jem PT | 2 years ago
2 likes

Isn't this as much about existing fleets as it is new vehicle production, though? As in, it'll allow operators to keep running their current, substandard vehicles, without bothering to go to the expense of upgrading / replacing them to make them safer?

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wycombewheeler replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
5 likes
mdavidford wrote:

Isn't this as much about existing fleets as it is new vehicle production, though? As in, it'll allow operators to keep running their current, substandard vehicles, without bothering to go to the expense of upgrading / replacing them to make them safer?

that is quite worrying if dangerous vehicles are removed from EU fleets, but put into service in the UK where lower standards are tolerated.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
4 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:
mdavidford wrote:

Isn't this as much about existing fleets as it is new vehicle production, though? As in, it'll allow operators to keep running their current, substandard vehicles, without bothering to go to the expense of upgrading / replacing them to make them safer?

that is quite worrying if dangerous vehicles are removed from EU fleets, but put into service in the UK where lower standards are tolerated.

Levelling up... the blind spots, innit?

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alexb replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
1 like

The other trick is to buy outdated and thus cheaper models from Europe.  There's no market for them there, so they're an absolute bargain if you're allowed to run them.

If you want a nice example of this, if you go to Northern Ireland you'll find all the outdated and highly polluting taxis that we removed from London's streets belching black fumes all over Belfast. The regulations put in place on mainland Britain don't apply to NI.

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