Monday, 3 February 2014

The proposed safety improvements to HGVs is a step in the right direction

There have recently been headlines regarding my criticisms of Boris Johnson's cycling policies. However, his backing of proposals to negate the dangers posed by HGVs entering London is definitely a step in the right direction and has the ability to genuinely improve the safety of cyclists. 

There are two tiers to the safety improvements. First is the proposed amendments to EU regulations to ensure new HGVs will be designed with larger windows and better sight-lines for drivers. This will be debated in the European Parliament on 11th February. The mayor spoke in favour of changing the regulations, saying that they "can save literally hundreds of lives across the EU in years to come.” With that in mind, it would be deeply disappointing if these changes cannot be pushed through, although whether the changes will be introduced appears to be finely balanced. 

The second initiative will require every vehicle in London over 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with protective equipment. In particular this includes sideguards to stop cyclists from being dragged under the wheels. It will also require HGVs to be fitted with extra mirrors to give the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles, and will help alleviate the dangerous blind spots. With the proposed ban on HGVs which do not meet these standards, the mayor has upped the ante on his proposals last year to levy a £200 fine on all lorries entering the capital without the safety equipment.

Chris Boardman (British Cycling's policy adviser and often a voice of reason on cycling issues) wrote an open letter to the mayor in November saying: "When I rode alongside you to help you launch your vision for cycling in March [2013], you made a verbal promise to look at the successful experiences of Paris and many other cities in restricting the movements of heavy vehicles during peak hours." Boardman is backing the proposed policy changes and said that "it would be criminal for us to know how to save lives and then choose not to take action."


  1. quick question. if a company receives multiple complaints about the way one or more of its drivers behave and then at a later date one of their drivers causes a collision can they be prosecuted under health and safety laws?

    1. Good question.

      Well, a company will normally be liable to pay damages for collisions caused by their drivers in a civil case, whether or not they are in breach of any rules.

      It is possible for a company to be given criminal sanctions but this is far harder.

      For instance, under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, an organisation commits an offence where there has been a gross failure which leads to someone’s death.

      Whilst a company could be criminally liable under this act, their actions would have to be excessively unreasonable and dangerous for a criminal court to prosecute them.

      A company not responding adequately to complaints against their driver would be unlikely to meet this standard unless there were significant additional factors which also contributed to the collision.