The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says that London's Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is misguided in his determination to press ahead with new design regulations for heavy goods vehicles operating in the city.
Following the announcement by Transport for London (TfL) of the new Direct Vision Standard (DVS) star ratings allocated to different designs of HGV cabs, FTA is concerned the scheme will fail to deliver the safety improvements Khan is hoping for.
The Association, which represents more than 16,000 British logistics and freight operators, says the use of new technology would be far more effective and is advising the Mayor that technological innovation is the only way to deliver his vision for an end to deaths and serious injuries on the capital's roads by 2041.
Under TfL's DVS proposals, every truck model over 12 tonnes which qualifies for the Euro VI emissions standard has now been allocated a star rating, which TfL claims indicates the standard of visibility from the driver's seat.
From 2020, any truck which does not meet the lowest "one star" rating will require operators to obtain a safety permit, which will be achieved by fulfilling the requirements of a new "Safe System". However, details of what this system will entail, along with ratings for older vehicles, are yet to be determined.
FTA's Head of Urban Policy, Natalie Chapman, welcomed the decision to finally publish details of the star ratings for each HGV model.
However, she said believes the entire project is flawed. "The whole process of implementing a Direct Vision Standard in London has been incredibly frustrating and disappointing,” she said. “Especially, since the Mayor seems determined to focus on visibility from the cab, when research shows new technology would deliver far better results.
"FTA's members take safety very seriously indeed and we have been advising our members operating in London to examine all available safety features when procuring new vehicles.
“In fact, TfL's long drawn-out process in implementing the Direct Vision Standard is actually delaying the purchase of new safer, cleaner trucks. Operators have been forced to postpone new acquisitions, until they are given adequate detail about the star ratings and the standards required by the new Safe System."
FTA is calling for urgent action to provide freight operators with detailed information about the requirements of TfL's planned Safe System, especially as many will need time to purchase and fit any additional equipment.
Chapman says the Mayor should also consider coordinating his plans for HGV regulation with the introduction of the new Ultra-Low Emission Zone to give logistics operators a fair chance to plan for the future.
"Logistics operators do a remarkable job keeping the capital supplied with goods under very difficult circumstances,” she said. “The Mayor should take another look at these two schemes and delay the start dates to give organisations the chance to prepare properly.
“In the end he's going to make it harder and more expensive for London's residents and its businesses to get the goods and services they need. And the DVS scheme, as it stands, will not achieve the major safety benefits he is anticipating. There are simply better, more effective options."