Lorry standards to keep us safe

Healthy Streets are streets with minimal road danger. That’s because a key barrier to more walking and cycling is fear of collisions. And the most dangerous vehicles on our roads are HGVs which are involved in 50% of cyclist road deaths and 20% of pedestrian deaths, even though they account for just 4% of the mileage on London roads. This danger can be minimized by adhering to newly developed standards which can be propagated by boroughs using procurement policies.

Transport for London (TfL), with support from the London Cycling Campaign, Living Streets and other charities, as well as the construction and haulage industries, has introduced three key safety standards designed to reduce danger from lorries. They are known by their acronyms:

FORS – Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme

FORS has 3 grades – Bronze, Silver, Gold, which evaluate the vehicle safety features, such as sideguards, mirrors, cameras and alert systems, an operator uses as well as the type of training given to drivers. The Silver standard is specified in many procurement terms, including those of TfL and several London boroughs, and has been adopted by many firms working in London. To meet the Silver standard all drivers need to complete the Safer Urban Driving (SUD) module that requires on-bike practical experience.

Lorry drivers attending a Safer Urban Driving training session to meet FORS Silver requirements.

CLOCS – Construction Logistics and Community Safety

An industry developed standard that incorporates FORS Silver grade (see above) for both vehicle safety features and driver training as well as procedures that minimize work related road risk outside construction sites, such as provision of marshals outside sites, and agreement with local authorities on suitable access routes and waiting areas.

CLOCS worksite with marshals and CLOCS signage

DVS – Direct Vision Standard

Developed by TfL and the industry in cooperation with universities, the standard seeks to minimize the so called ‘blind spots’ on lorries that are routinely blamed for causing collisions. Conventional lorries have high driver cabs with poor direct vision (through the cab windows) that forces the driver to constantly look at six separate mirrors to see pedestrians and other road users. As can be seen on almost all of London’s refuse lorries good direct driver vision can be achieved. The DVS standard defines the parameters of good vision and grades lorries from zero (poor) to five star (good). As of 2021, TfL requires lorries working in London to be one star graded or include ‘mitigating measures’ include a camera and an alert system. The London standard will rise to three stars in 2024. A similar standard has been adopted by the European Union with all new lorries, made in the EU, obliged to meet the new vision requirements by 2029.

Two five star DVS lorries working in central London

Promoting and enforcing the new lorry standards

London’s local authorities (32 boroughs plus the City of London) have both buying power and planning power. Transport for London, and several boroughs, already require contractors and sub-contractors to follow the CLOCS, FORS and DVS standards as part of their terms for procurement (purchasing of services).

This has encouraged major lorry operators in London like Veolia, McGee, Mace and Tarmac to adhere to both CLOCS and FORS standards and order lorries that, in some cases, achieve DVS five star ratings. One consequence of meeting safety standards, using new technologies and following checks and training procedures is that companies find their drivers are involved in fewer collisions which saves time and money, as well as avoiding tragedies.

The current minimum London-wide requirement for lorries is that they have a full set of mirrors, sideguards and meet the one star DVS standard (or include the required mitigating measures). This helps keep more dangerous lorries off our roads but does not deter less diligent operators.

Were all London boroughs to follow the example of TfL, Camden, City, Hackney and Croydon and have procurement terms that specify CLOCS, FORS and DVS standards all firms tendering for council or TfL contracts would be motivated to improve their performance and reduce road danger.

Tom Bogdanowicz

Tom Bogdanowicz

Senior Policy and Development Officer, London Cycling Campaign

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