The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is warning operators to make sure their vehicles comply with London's Safer Lorry Scheme - which came into force today (1st September) - or they risk being fined.
The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will require all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with sideguards, kerb view and front mirrors. The enforcement area is the entire London Low Emission Zone and operators breaching the rules face £50 fixed penalties or £1,000 court fines.
Many newer vehicles already have the required mirrors and sideguards and some operators have already fitted them voluntarily. There are exemptions to the scheme, which has been introduced with the aim of improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists by giving lorry drivers a better view around their vehicles. Details of the exemptions can be found on the Transport for London website.
Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London, said: “FTA is pleased that there are exemptions and concessions for vehicles where this equipment is either not possible or not legal. However, in principle we believe that this kind of blunt regulatory tool is not the best way to improve cyclist safety.
“We still think that the money and effort invested in this scheme would have been better spent on increased enforcement against the small proportion of lorries that don't comply with existing regulations. There are better ways to achieve safer roads for all users.”
The scheme will be enforced by the police, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the joint Department for Transport/Transport for London-funded Industrial HGV Taskforce. Those who don’t comply will also be referred for investigation by the relevant Traffic Commissioner.
FTA’s Member Advice Centre has already received many calls about the new regulations from operators who want to ensure their vehicles are compliant and check which ones are exempt.
The FTA's UKAS-accredited Vehicle Inspection Service offers compliance checks on the correct installation of sideguards and mirrors to the new requirements, which are carried out by highly qualified and experienced vehicle inspection engineers. Compliance checks can be carried out on site at operators’ premises by the FTA visiting inspection service.
FTA is opposed the approach of the Safer Lorry Scheme in principle, as the Association does not wish to see local authorities taking over the role of defining HGV regulations. However it has worked with TfL to ensure that the application of these set of rules are as flexible and suitable as possible for the purposes intended and is now working to ensure operators are compliant by the implementation date.