Thursday, March 22, 2018

Road Haulage Freight Lobby Critical of London Lorry Direct Vision Strategy Implementation

London Mayor 'Misguided' Over New Truck Transport Policy
Shipping News Feature
UK – The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for commercial vehicles proposed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come in for more heavy criticism this week from the road haulage lobby. Confusion reigns over a system which first came under discussion in 2015 when, during that year, it was noted that a disproportionate number of fatal accidents with cyclists (78%) and pedestrians (20%) in the City's streets involved HGVs, prompting a series of consultations with stakeholders, including representatives of the freight industry.

The problems since that first consultation however have been the prevarication in actually sorting out what the standards will be, which trucks comply and when they will be introduced. Having officially launched the scheme in 2016, administrators Transport for London (TfL) are still vague about how things will proceed with head of delivery planning Christina Calderato, speaking at a recent Road Haulage Association (RHA) Conference unable to confirm the cost of permits, who and how will regulate them.

Obviously such uncertainty is ridiculous given that road haulage operators need to plan ahead and many feel they have simply been witnessing a game with moving goalposts following on from new mandatory mirror regulations already imposed. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has not been slow to phrase where they feel the mayor’s plans are lacking.

Last month the FTA pointed out that the delays were acting directly against the mayor’s other target, that of vehicle emissions. The FTA said that it believed there would currently be hundreds of cleaner vehicles on London’s roads if hauliers had not delayed the purchase of new Euro VI trucks whilst the uncertainty of DVS details persisted. At that time TfL responded that it would shortly announce the DVS ‘Star Ratings' for new Euro VI vehicles which it has now done.

This has prompted the FTA to call the mayor ‘misguided’ in his determination to press ahead with new design regulations after the announcement of the star ratings allocated to different designs of HGV cabs were finally released. Under TfL's DVS proposals, every truck model over 12 tonnes which qualifies for the Euro VI emissions standard has now been allocated a star rating.

This, TfL claims, indicates the standard of visibility from the driver's seat. From 2020 any truck which does not meet the lowest ‘one star’ rating will require operators to obtain a safety permit, which will be achieved by fulfilling the requirements of a new ‘Safe System’. However, details of what this system will entail, along with ratings for older vehicles, are, once again, still to be determined.

The FTA says the mayor has not considered properly the use of new technology which it believes would be a more effective route to improve safety. It insists that technological innovation is the only way to deliver his vision for an end to deaths and serious injuries on the capital's roads by 2041. FTA's Head of Urban Policy, Natalie Chapman, welcomed the decision to finally publish details of the star ratings for each HGV model, but believes the entire project is flawed, saying:

"The whole process of implementing a Direct Vision Standard in London has been incredibly frustrating and disappointing. Especially, since the Mayor seems determined to focus on visibility from the cab, when research shows new technology would deliver far better results.

"FTA's members take safety very seriously indeed and we have been advising our members operating in London to examine all available safety features when procuring new vehicles. In fact, TfL's long drawn-out process in implementing the Direct Vision Standard is actually delaying the purchase of new safer, cleaner trucks. Operators have been forced to postpone new acquisitions, until they are given adequate detail about the star ratings and the standards required by the new Safe System.

"Logistics operators do a remarkable job keeping the capital supplied with goods under very difficult circumstances. The Mayor should take another look at these two schemes and delay the start dates to give organisations the chance to prepare properly. In the end he's going to make it harder and more expensive for London's residents and its businesses to get the goods and services they need. And the DVS scheme, as it stands, will not achieve the major safety benefits he is anticipating. There are simply better, more effective options."

The demand is for urgent action to provide freight operators with detailed information about the requirements of TfL's planned Safe System, especially as many will need time to purchase and fit any additional equipment. In another essential point Ms Chapman said the Mayor should also consider coordinating his plans for HGV regulation with the introduction of the new Ultra-Low Emission Zone to give logistics operators a fair chance to plan for the future.