The trade body for the vehicle rental and leasing industry in the UK has opposed Transport for London’s proposal for a new Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for trucks entering London from 2020. Responding to TfL’s online consultation on the DVS, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said the proposals were unworkable and unsupported by clear road safety evidence.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wants to create a rating system from zero to five stars to grade HGVs based on the level of direct vision the driver has from the cab. Mr Khan has proposed that lorries with a zero star rating are banned from London by 2020. Furthermore, from 2024, only lorries that achieve a star rating of three stars or more would be permitted entry into the capital. In order to achieve a five star rating, trucks must either be fitted with a Low Entry Cab (LEC), or have a transparent panel in the passenger door. The mayor justified his decision with the claim that HGVs were involved in 22.5% of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist fatalities on London’s roads in 2014 and 2015.
Commenting on the proposals, BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said: “We welcome the Mayor’s attempts to improve road safety in London, but while his intentions are noble, he’s approaching this the wrong way. Installing a window in the door panel of every truck our members operate is just not feasible, and there is only a limited number of LEC vehicles currently on sale. TfL needs to provide more robust safety evidence to justify the changes needed – it should clearly explain how this new standard will work. BVRLA members are already improving road safety in the capital, as they have invested heavily in cyclist detection systems, sideguards and cameras. While rental and leasing companies are unable to endorse the DVS proposals as they stand, we have told TfL that we want to help the Mayor meet his goals.”
BVRLA members are responsible for one in every five HGVs on UK roads, and the association highlighted that road safety is not a matter for TfL alone. “Road deaths are not just an issue in the capital,” Keaney added. “We feel that any new standard should be applicable for all cities in the UK, not just London. Our members hire out HGVs across the country to enable companies to conduct their business. One day a vehicle might be needed in Birmingham, and the next it could be required to travel into London. Companies should not be forced to make separate considerations solely for work in the capital.”
Going forward, the association has called for policymakers to consult the industry and put together a nationwide road safety framework that is backed up by a clear cost benefit analysis and forms part of a national type approval scheme.