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Government urged to support safer not bigger lorries against industry wrecking tactics

15 May 2014
Organisations representing cyclists, pedestrians and sustainable transport have called on the UK Government to back safer lorry design after industry lobbying threatened to delay any changes by up to 10 years. In a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, the organisations call for an early adoption of measures to allow improvements to cab design, making it easier for lorry drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists.

Last month, the European Parliament voted to make safety a fundamental part of changes to lorry dimensions, allowing extra length to lorry cabs. The next stage is for the Council of Ministers to approve the Directive at its June meeting. However according to the Financial Times, the Swedish and French Governments are seeking a 10 year delay to the introduction of potentially life-saving design improvements, with suggestions that Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks are concerned at the implementation costs after they recently launched new model ranges.

Rhia Weston, Road Safety Campaigner, CTC, the national cycling charity said

"The way lorries are currently designed is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. MEPs have voted for changes that would make it much easier for drivers to see them, preventing collisions and saving lives. We need the Government to stand up to industry delaying tactics and get safer, greener lorries on our roads as soon as possible."

Kate Cairns, Founder, See Me Save Me said

"If the Swedes and French get their way, their irresponsible delaying tactics would make it impossible for other manufacturers to redesign safe cabs for another 10 years. This will unnecessarily stifle innovation which we know will save lives."

The letter also calls on Government to support continued restriction on the international movement of mega-trucks (vehicles measuring up to 25m and weighing up to 60 tonnes). The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to postpone any change to the current position until after a full European Commission report, due in 2016.

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport said

"The Government must stick to its position that there is no place for mega trucks on UK roads. We urge them not to consider relaxing restrictions on these huge lorries until more detailed work on their impacts has been done."

Notes

1. The joint letter sent to the Secretary of State can be read here

2. The letter has been signed by the following organisations: British Cycling, Campaign for Better Transport, CTC the national cycling charity, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, Roadpeace, See Me Save Me, Sustrans.

3. On 15 April 2014, the European Parliament voted for changes to the weights and dimensions of HGVs (Directive 96/53). This included provisions for safer cab designs and removed a planned clause to allow cross border traffic of mega trucks.

4. On 14 May, the Financial Times carried a story outlining likely opposition to safer lorries at the next Council of Ministers meeting from Sweden and France

5. Transport and Environment have produced a briefing outlining how proposed changes to lorry design would be safer and greener.