It has been proposed that the Mayor is to introduce a rating system to the Capital that will ban vehicles with the worst driver visibility from its roads by 2020!
A recent announcement by Sadiq Khan; the mayor of London, states that within the next four years, thousands of lorries will be banned from the roads of the capital. This drastic action will be put into effect in order to protect pedestrians and cyclists.
Campaigners for road safety have called for action to be taken against many heavy goods vehicles (HGV’s) including construction lorries, all of which have fatal blind spots.
Despite making up only 4% of traffic, figures show that HGV’s are involved with more than half of the cycling deaths on London’s roads, and constitute to more than a fifth of pedestrian deaths.
Mr. Khan’s plans have been welcomed by cycling groups within the city. The aim is to give construction trucks and other HGVs a star-based safety rating from zero to five, based on the visibility that the driver has.
Effective as of January 2020, those vehicles with a zero rating; primarily construction trucks with a high cab and big clearance under the wheels, will be banned.
It has been said that by 2024, only trucks rated three stars – “good” – or above will be allowed access into the city.
From the next financial year, Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority will not sign any contracts that involve the use of zero-starred trucks.
Khan’s office said there were currently about 35,000 zero-rated trucks operating in London, and that over the past three years they had been involved in about 70% of the cyclist deaths involving HGVs.
Overall, lorries were connected to 58% of cycling deaths in 2014 and 2015, and 22.5% of pedestrian deaths.
Khan said the evidence was clear and he felt obliged to “take bold action” in order to protect the cyclists and pedestrians of the city.
He commented: “I’m not prepared to stand by and let dangerous lorries continue to cause further heartbreak and tragedy on London’s roads,”.
“Our groundbreaking direct vision standard will be the first of its kind in the world, directly addressing the issue of lethal driver blindspots. I’m also proud that TfL will lead by example and will not use any zero-star lorries in its supply chain from the new financial year.”
A significant number of the cyclist deaths recorded involving lorries in London happened when the truck turned left across the bike. Without the full visibility, the driver was unable to properly see anything within a large area around the truck, or did not properly check and utilise all of their mirrors.
Safety campaigns have urged cyclists in the city to stay away from the near side of lorries. However, bike lanes often filter cycle traffic next to the kerb and a number of deaths have occurred when trucks have overtaken the cyclist before turning across them.
The move was welcomed by the London Cycling Campaign with Tom Bogdanowicz; its senior policy manager, stating: “Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and operators of HGVs all stand to gain if modern designs with minimal blindspots become the norm for on-street use – no one wants fatalities and life-changing injuries to continue to happen,”
However, the Road Haulage Association said the plans proposed by the mayor were unfair on HGV drivers. Its chief executive, Richard Burnett, said: “Lorries, including construction vehicles, play a vital part in the economic life of London. Without them the capital’s businesses would grind to a standstill”.
“We want to bring balance to the argument. We’re not convinced these measures are the solution. Improved visibility isn’t going to sort the problem alone.”
Construction trucks are seen as a major safety issue. A study in 2013 commission by Transport For London concluded that lorries carrying materials to and from building sites were disproportionately responsible for the number of cyclist deaths. A large factor of this highlights rushed delivery times and a lack of proper care regarding road safety within the construction industry.
A series of organisations have sought to design lorries with significantly better surrounding visibility for drivers in order to reduce the number of accidents caused by the lack of vision surrounding the vehicle. The European parliament has passed a law obliging the use of such trucks, although the new standards will not come into force until 2022.