The Freight Transport Association (FTA), the largest transport trade association in the UK, has welcomed the broader approach to improving safety on the capital’s roads beyond the Direct Vision Standard, following the launch by the Mayor of London today (16 November) of a consultation on a new Safety Permit Scheme for HGVs. But it points out that the new permit scheme has the potential to make the regulatory environment in London even more complex.
The Safety Permit Scheme, to be introduced for all HGV operators across the capital from 2020, will take account of technological solutions such as in-cab cameras and sensors around vehicles to improve safety, alongside regulations governing the visibility standards required from the cabs of HGVs.
Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London, said: “Road safety is hugely important and one death on the roads is one too many. However, as trucks are manufactured for the whole of Europe, standards for vehicle design should be set at an EU level and not by individual cities. The narrow focus on direct vision was the wrong one and we are glad that the proposals now being consulted on recognise the technical solutions which are now available and the improvements companies have already made.”
Chapman continues: “Whilst the ‘safe system’ proposal is a move in the right direction, the new permit scheme has the potential to make the regulatory environment in London even more complex. The Safety Permit Scheme needs to be simple, reliable and enforceable and should focus on the vehicle only to match the Direct Vision Standard approach.”
The Direct Vision Standard, proposed by Mr Khan’s office at the start of the year, uses a “star rating” from 0-5 to rate HGVs based on the level of vision directly from the cab. As Direct Vision only provides a limited benefit, FTA has argued that this is the wrong measure to pursue as a sole focus of a regulation. Technology has an unlimited potential to improve safety and FTA believes it is this that should be supported.
Natalie Chapman also reiterated FTA’s call for the appointment of a Freight Commissioner for London as a matter of urgency: “With this and the Ultra Low Emission Zone which is shortly due to be consulted on, the environment for delivery in London is becoming increasingly complex and difficult, as well as expensive. Freight businesses urgently need a champion who can provide a strategic vision and ensure they are supported in providing the high-quality and reliable service Londoners have come to expect. They deserve the support of a dedicated, distinctive voice that a Freight Commissioner would provide.”