According to Transport for London, HGVs were involved in 9 out of 14 incidents that lead to cyclist fatalities in 2013. In an effort to make London’s roads safer, the safer lorry scheme was launched on 1 September 2015 which introduced the need for lorries to be fitted with basic safety equipment.
The scheme, formally entitled The Gla Roads And Gla Side Roads (London Safer Lorry Scheme) (Restriction Of Goods Vehicles) Traffic Order 2015, states that “no person shall use, drive or cause or permit to be used or driven in any restricted street… a goods vehicle over 3.5 tonnes… which is not fitted with (i) a class V mirror on the passenger side (ii) a class VI mirror to the front of the vehicle and (iii) sideguards …unless the vehicle is an exempted vehicle.”
A list of exempted vehicles, alongside additional guidance about the scheme, may be found on the TfL website https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/freight/safer-lorry-scheme. Some previously exempted vehicles over 3.5 tonnes will need to be fitted with safety equipment if they do not remain within the exempted list.
Where will this apply?
The scheme will operate across the same area as the low emission zone (map available on TfL website - https://tfl.gov.uk/maps/low-emission-zone) and will apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Who will enforce it?
The Metropolitan and City of London Police and the DVSA will be enforcing the scheme, which will see drivers found with non-compliant vehicles dealt with in one of the following ways:
- a £50 fixed penalty notice; or
- a potential Magistrates’ Court appearance with a fine of up to £1,000.
In addition, the traffic commissioner will be notified of those companies operating vehicles in breach of the rules set out by the scheme.
Regardless of the fact that the authorities will notify the traffic commissioner, holders of an operator licence give undertakings at the inception of the licence. This includes notifying the traffic commissioner of any convictions (including convictions of individuals such as drivers and directors).
On receipt of any such information, the traffic commissioner may invite the operator licence holder to a public inquiry to consider whether the obligations under the licence are being met. At any public inquiry the traffic commissioner will have to consider whether action will need to be taken on the licence, including as a worst case scenario, revocation. Individual drivers could be called to a driver conduct hearing.
What should employers do now?
If you’re affected by this, you will need to ensure that you, as an operator licence holder are compliant as well as your drivers.
Remember – a breach committed by your drivers could have consequences for you as on operator licence holder.
With this in mind, we recommend the following steps for employers.
- Make sure each driver is aware of the new requirements and document that this notification has taken place. Also consider displaying the new requirements permanently in visible locations.
- Update your drivers’ handbook or internal policies to make it clear that you as an operator licence holder will uphold these requirements and that you require your drivers to do so too
- Update your disciplinary policy, specifying a failure to comply with the new requirements as an act of misconduct (or potentially gross misconduct). This would allow you to take disciplinary action against a driver in breach, with a view to deterring and preventing further non-compliance.
For further information on this topic, please contact Philippa Dyer or Catherine Johnson. This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive. Specific legal advice should be taken in any individual application. Law covered as at December 2015.