Transport minister, Boris and transport commissioner reveal plan to tackle dangerous HGVs

DfT and Mayor of London announce ‘HGV task force’

The Department for Transport has revealed plans to introduce a HGV Task Force, which will be challenged with tackling dangerous HGV driving, as well as the improving the safety of the vehicles themselves.

In a five point plan announced today, the Dft and TfL aim to:

  • establish a new industrial HGV task force to take direct action against dangerous HGV drivers, vehicles and operators
  • review exemptions to current HGV regulations
  • call for European Union to speed up its review on the design of HGVs to increase drivers’ visibility of vulnerable road users
  • DfT and the Driving Standards Agency issuing a call for evidence about how driver training could change
  • The Mayor is also set to ask Londoners for their views on whether he should use his powers to levy a substantial “safer lorry charge” on any HGV which is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists

Further resources from both the Metropolitain police and the Vehicle and Operator services Agency, or VOSA as most know it, are to be dedicated to enforcing a minimum standard for HGVs in relation to cycle safety. A London-based industrial HGV task force will be bringing to the attention of operators safety devices and training in order to reduce cycle casualties. Enforcement action may also be taken against dangerous drivers, unsafe vehicles and operators flouting rules.

Existing work by the Metropolitan Police to improve road safety and cycle safety in London, including the enforcement of advanced stop lines and to fine cyclists who jump red lights will continue.

Under national legislation, most HGVs, such as supermarket delivery lorries, are required to be fitted with safety equipment such as sidebars or low skirts which protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users from being dragged underneath the vehicle in the event of a collision. Some vehicles in the construction sector are, at present, exempt from fitting certain safety equipment, though this exemption is set to be revoked.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said: "The government is committed to improving the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Today’s announcement of a dedicated Industrial HGV task force will target the small minority of large goods vehicle operators who are unaware of, or just wilfully non-compliant with, safety regulations for HGVs and their drivers. I have also committed to review vehicle regulations to ensure there are no unjustified exemptions from safety standards and, together with the Mayor, will press the EU to improve vehicle safety designs as soon as possible."

The Mayor of London’s office has also pledged to work closely with BikeAbility trainers to promote proper cycle training.

The Mayor will also ask Londoners for their views on whether he should use his powers to levy a substantial “safer lorry charge” on any HGV which is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists.

Boris Johnson said: "I have long been worried that a large number of cyclist deaths involve a relatively small number of problem lorries which are not fitted with safety equipment. In my cycling vision in March, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. After a lot of work behind the scenes, we have today (4 September 2013) taken the first steps to make this a reality."

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