Following the introduction of the Safer Lorry Scheme, HGVs that fail to meet strict safety requirements are now legally banned from the capital’s roads. While wholeheartedly backing the scheme, having been one of the fleet operators chosen to launch it, Jacqueline O’Donovan, managing director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, thinks that the ban alone is not enough to stop accidents involving vulnerable road users.
Here, she explains further.
"While the introduction of the Safer Lorry Scheme is extremely welcome and will no doubt have a positive impact on all road users across the capital, this alone is not enough to cut incidents involving HGVs and other road users to an acceptable level.
"To ensure that everyone has the best chance of travelling safely, we need to combine the introduction of enforced HGV safety equipment with more training and education for both drivers and cyclists.
"At O’Donovan, we invest heavily in driver training to ensure that all of our staff are aware of the dangers of operating a HGV and tailor their behaviour accordingly. In fact, last year we launched our own driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) driver training - Waste Essentials which is tailored to the exact needs of drivers working in the industry. We also use a state-of-the-art operational management system to monitor driver behaviour in real time and identify training needs on a continual basis.
"But training drivers is not enough. We also regularly take part in the Exchanging Places programme, which is run by the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London (TfL). The scheme enables cyclists to experience a HGV driver's view of the road and get a better understanding of the blind spots around the vehicle. The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers of collisions between cyclists and trucks. This type of experience for cyclists and pedestrians needs to be more widely implemented so more lives can be saved.
"It is without a doubt a huge stride in the right direction for everybody living and working in London to see the Safer Lorry Scheme come into force. However, if real impact is to be made and more lives saved, all parties need to take a more collaborative approach to safety and well-being.
"HGV owners need to see this ban not as a burden, but more of an opportunity to help the industry shake its reputation as the ‘bad guys’ in this situation. By combining fleet safety measures with stringent training programmes for drivers, operators can take control of their own destinies - so to speak. Cyclists and pedestrians too could benefit from further knowledge on the challenges facing HGV drivers. If we all work together to improve awareness, we can share in the benefits of less incidents and more lives saved, a win for everybody involved."