A new law has been put into place this week which helps to protect cyclists and pedestrians from danger. Britain’s first safer lorry scheme means that all HGVs must be fitted with side guards, to prevent anyone being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision, as well as having a specific mirror to give the driver a better view of those alongside and behind the vehicle.
The scheme is in place in London only to begin with, as 7 of the 8 cyclist deaths this year so far have involved an HGV. Mayor Boris Johnson said of the new scheme, “We are ahead of any other part of the UK in closing the legal loopholes that allowed many HGVs to operate without basic safety equipment and I am delighted that, over the 18 months since we announced the safer lorry scheme. A very disproportionate share of cyclist deaths and serious injuries are caused by lorries and today’s scheme will undoubtedly save lives”.
He has also launched a new proposal for all lorries to be fitted with bigger side windows, to help reduce blind spots – but at the moment, this is just in an idea phase.
The new rules cover every road in the capital except motorways and are in place 24/7. The maximum fine for each breach of the ban is £1,000. Repeat offenders risk losing their operating licence.
However, those in the haulier business disagree with the new scheme, saying that the money spent on it should have been used to reinforce previous guidelines. Natalie Chapman, head of policy for London at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said: “In principle we believe that this kind of blunt regulatory tool is not the best way to improve cyclist safety. We still think that the money and effort invested in this scheme would have been better spent on increased enforcement against the small proportion of lorries that don’t comply with existing regulations. There are better ways to achieve safer roads for all users”.
Time will tell, of course, and hopefully this initiative will have a positive impact for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on the roads of the capital.
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Photo credit: Geograph.org.uk
Author Lex Barber
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