London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to ban up to 35,000 lorries from London’s roads in the name of road safety by 2020 under a new safety scheme designed to tackle the big problem of lorries killing cyclists.
Currently, 58% of cyclists killed by other road users are killed by lorries, that are only 4% of the traffic on London’s roads.
Under the scheme planned by the Mayor’s Office, lorries will be awarded a star rating where 0 stars are the most dangerous to other road users and 3 stars are rated as the least. By 2020 those rated with 0 stars will be banned from London’s streets, and by 2024 only those with a 3 star rating will be allowed into the metropolitan area. From the financial year 2017-18, Transport for London will no longer sign any contracts using vehicles rated at 0 stars.
The rating will be based on a combination of the driver being able to see around their vehicle and safety measures around it. The most dangerous lorries on the roads at the moment are said to be construction trucks, that have high cabs and a lot of clearance under them. Drivers can’t see the road immediately to their left and there is a heightened risk that cyclists can get under their wheels. It is estimated that 70% of the annual road deaths in London caused by lorries are caused by 0 star rated vehicles.
In his announcement, Khan said, “I’m not prepared to stand by and let dangerous lorries continue to cause further heartbreak and tragedy on London’s roads.”
The ban is not there to reduce the density of traffic on the roads (though many would like that to be the case!). London being by far the biggest metropolitan area in the country, this should force lorry designers to think along the lines of road safety as part of the design process. Truck owners will have to think of this issue when making purchasing decisions in future and this will force the evolution of lorries on Britain’s roads in the direction of safer vehicles where other, smaller road users can be seen from the cab. This will drive the design of lorries sold in the UK, and hopefully make it safer for cyclists and walkers all over the country.
The London Cycling Campaign has welcomed the new regulations. Tom Bogdanowicz, senior policy manager of the campaign said, “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.”
Despite the fact that the Road Haulage Association complained at the new regulations, I’m sure that lorry drivers would prefer to have measures in their vehicles designed to help prevent them killing other road users. No one walks away from such fatal accidents unscathed – though the driver might walk away physically intact, the emotional scars will last many years to come.