What does the Safer Lorry Scheme mean to your business?
June 15, 2016 at 10:17 AM
Maintaining safe driving conditions for all road users is important. London is a place that caters to many driving needs from personal to commercial, so Transport for London have launched the Safer Lorry Scheme to improve safety on London roads.
In 2015, the percentage of fatal accidents involving cyclists and heavy goods vehicles was very high, and that is one reason that motivated the regulations. The safer lorry scheme rolled out on 1 September 2015. As a transport manager of commercial vehicles, it is important to learn what the scheme is all about and what impact it will have on your business.
The Components of the Scheme
The safer lorry scheme requires vehicles weighing 3.5 tonnes or more to have additional safety features. There are three parts of the scheme:
The first is the Class VI mirror, also called the front blind spot mirror. This mirror facilitates proper visibility of the front cab. With conventional lorry designs, there is a blind spot that is directly in front of the cab. Even if a driver looks as far in front as they can while sitting, it is impossible to see past a certain point. Such a limitation presents a problem when a cyclist crosses directly in front. The additional mirror is supposed to provide the driver with a wider viewing angle.
A Class V mirror is the second element in the safer lorry scheme. This one is also known as the side proximity mirror. Its function is to provide a driver with a clear view of the immediate outside of a lorry cab. In standing traffic when two cyclists stop beside a lorry, it can be hard for a driver to see them both, and this mirror comes in handy in such a case.
The third safety feature that must comply with the regulations is the use of side guards, such as bars or panels. These guards go into the space between the axles and the wheels. In collisions involving HGVs, these areas are dangerous because pedestrians or cyclists can get dragged under there. Side guards eliminate this risk.
Implementation of the safer lorry scheme is in the London Low Emission Zone. The DVSA, police, and Industrial HGV Taskforce are responsible for enforcing the regulations. The fine for failing to adhere to the standard is up to £1,000 per infraction. A commercial lorry operator caught multiple times may be reported to the HGV Traffic Commissioner.
Does it Affect You?
If your fleet of commercial vehicles contains vans, you may wonder if the regulations apply to them as well. Some exemptions apply to these rules, and some vans fall under them.
As per the SLS regulations, mirrors must be 2m from the ground. Most vans such as all Mercedes Sprinters, Volkswagen Crafter, Nissan Cabster, and small lorries like the Mitsubishi Fuso Canter cannot meet this regulation; and therefore, are exempt.
There is a list of all the vehicles that are exempt from the safer lorry scheme. If you operate a van model that is deemed fit to meet the regulations, then retrofitting will be necessary. For some owners, it may be cheaper to replace a whole fleet and get compliant vehicles.
Photo credit: TFL (Transport for London)
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