Following initial EU approval this April of safety regulations requiring all lorries to implement improved direct vision, Transport for London is expected to issue a traffic regulation order making it mandatory for lorries driven in London to have a one star direct vision grading from October 2020. This will rise to three stars in October 2024.
TfL announced this latest stage of its plans, which includes a final statutory consultation, following wide-spread public support for the proposals and campaigns from the London Cycling Campaign and the Action on Lorry Danger group.
Along with better direct vision on HGVs through windscreens and windows rather than via mirrors or cameras, the regulations will also require new cars to be fitted with Intelligent Speed Adaptation (speed limiters) and other safety measures.
Transport for London created a zero-five star Direct Vision Standard for lorries. Initially, lorries with low ratings will be able to work in London if they install mitigating measures that include both a camera system and an alert system.
Vehicles that do not meet the one star rating in 2020 will have to be fitted with 'safe system measures' that include cameras and sensor warning systems.
The aim of direct vision is to eliminate lorry drivers' blind spots, particularly relevant to dustbin collection lorries and other vehicles where the driver sits high off the ground. These safety measures are particularly important to protect cyclists travelling near the lorry. The priority is, of course, to save the lives of cyclists and pedestrians, too many of whom are killed every day on the roads.
We continue to support the campaign for direct vision as fundamental to improving the safety of London roads for all users.
It is a campaign particularly close to my heart having recently settled a long-running case for client Sarah Heanaghan who was left close to death when a lorry turned right across her, pulling her and her bicycle under its wheels in Whitechapel High Street.
Sarah believed she had put herself directly in the eye line of the HGV driver who nonetheless said he did not see her in any of his mirrors. The internal display monitor in his cab connected to CCTV cameras on the lorry at the time was only positioned to show the nearside of the HGV. The police witness report, however, confirmed that the driver should have seen Ms Heanaghan.
Despite Sarah having made amazing progress, she obviously suffered and continues to cope with life-changing injuries.
Sarah's case, along with other cases run by the team, emphasises the serious danger of HGVs with low cabs and the absolute necessity of direct vision lorries. When people's lives are threatened, there can be no reason not to support TfL's proposals.
Sarah added: "What happened to me was not something I ever thought would happen. I was there on the road to be seen, but without the proper safety measures, I wasn't. It was an incident that sent me down a long road of operations, rehab and recovery that I am still in today. Without the support of my solicitors, family and friends I would not have made it through.
"These new safety measures could mean the difference between life and death. Any campaign that makes the roads safer is definitely worth supporting."