Against a background of often high-profile fatal and serious non-fatal accidents, the London Safer Lorry Scheme comes into force on Tuesday 1st September 2015. All operators and drivers of goods vehicles need to understand how this new regime operates to avoid unnecessary enforcement action. Unless businesses have already addressed this, it may be necessary for them to fit mirrors and side guard equipment to the goods vehicles in their fleet.
When will the London Safer Lorry Scheme operate?
It will be in force every day, 24/7 with effect from 1st September 2015. In this sense it is different to other measures such as the congestion charge where there are relaxations on certain days or at certain times.
What geographical area does it apply to?
It covers exactly the same area as the London low emission zone (LEZ) situated within the M25.
What exactly does the scheme entail?
Commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gvw must be fitted with both the requisite mirrors and side guards set out by law. If they are not fitted, an offence is committed with a maximum possible fine of £1,000 in the Magistrates’ Court, with the alternative of a fixed penalty notice being payable in the sum of £50.
As an Operator, what must I do?
You must ensure that you comply with the Borough Roads (London Safer Lorry Scheme) (Restriction on Goods Vehicles) Traffic Order 2015.
This stipulates that no person can use, drive or cause or permit to use in restricted streets any goods vehicle not fitted with both a Class V mirror on the passenger side and a Class VI mirror to the front of the vehicle. The Class V mirrors relate to side close proximity and Class VI to front projection. Nor can the vehicle be used without side guards being fitted.
Both mirrors and side guards must fulfil the specifications in the relevant legislation.
Are there any exemptions?
Yes. There is a list of various exempt types of vehicles where the mirrors/side guards are not required. We can advise further about them. Some vehicles are exempted from the requirement to fit Class V and VI mirrors; some vehicles are exempted from the requirement to fit side guards. In addition, the exemptions list situations where a vehicle can be used without the necessary equipment, e.g. when being taken to pre-booked appointments for fitment or where the driver is being directed by police. For further exempted vehicles, please see the TfL’s guidance.
It should not be assumed that your vehicle is exempt because it has previously been exempt for some reason from similar provisions. It needs to comply with the provisions of the Order.
What is the purpose of this regime?
A priority of the London Mayor and TfL has been to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads of London and their target is to decrease this by 40% by 2020. They wish to prioritise the safety for the most vulnerable, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. As is very well known, given the high profile nature of such incidents, there have been many cyclist and pedestrian fatalities in London and many involve lorries, not least those in the construction sector since a high proportion of lorries operating within the London area conduct that type of work. Many of these incidents have involved turning traffic and/or a lack of visibility, and the consequences of some could have been avoided by the existence of guarding on the vehicle sides. The Safer Lorry Scheme itself is the result of a study, recommendations and a consultation.
As an Operator, would any offence affect my operator's licence?
It is the intention that Traffic Commissioners will automatically be informed of any incidents involving non-compliant vehicles used by businesses holding operators licences. A failure to comply with a regime that is specifically aimed at protecting what are regarded as particularly vulnerable road users, notwithstanding the views of certain elements of the transport sector concerning cyclists, will be regarded very seriously by Traffic Commissioners even where no collision or incident occurs.
What should I do as an Operator?
1. Ensure your goods vehicles comply with the regulations by being correctly fitted/equipped if they operate within the zone and if they might for some reason enter the zone even if this is not currently planned. You may have a mixed fleet of goods vehicles – check whether any vehicles are exempt from the requirements.
2. Ensure all drivers are aware of the new rules. You may wish to include this in a written memo, at driver meetings, and on notice boards in the drivers’ room.
3. Ensure all transport and other relevant staff, including workshop, are aware of the rules.
4. Do not permit any vehicle to enter the zone unless properly equipped. If you have any vehicles that are not so equipped ensure that they are not inadvertently deployed in the zone, e.g. at short notice or where an alternative route might be taken by a driver.
5. In the unhappy event of a fixed penalty or conviction, notify the Traffic Commissioner with a detailed explanation and mitigation within 28 days.
For further help or advice
Please contact a member of our Road Transport team.