FTA critical of mayor's move to make HGVs retrofit extra nearside cab windows

The FTA has criticised a TfL consultation launched today (22 January) that proposes HGVs entering the capital should be retrofitted with additional nearside window panels in the cab’s door.

TfL estimates the cost of each window to be between £1,000 and £1,500, but said the measure will help lorry drivers get better direct vision of cyclists on the passenger side of the vehicle.

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "The danger caused by HGVs to other road users is unacceptable and we have to reduce it. With the launch last year of my Safer Lorry Scheme, we have already made real progress.”

He added that nine cyclists died in London last year, the second-lowest number ever, but that seven of the fatalities involved a lorry.  “That is why we have to press on to the next stage. The cost per lorry is modest. The benefit to Londoners' safety will be significant,” Johnson said.

However, the FTA has calculated that the cost to the UK’s HGV fleet operators of retrofitting vehicles with transparent panels would be in the region of £280m and questions whether this would be the best use of such a huge investment in safety,

FTA head of national & regional policy Christopher Snelling said improving direct visibility for drivers was essential but there was no clear evidence that the windows were the best way to achieve the aim.
“Side panel have limitations – for example, if the vehicle is carrying a second crew member or equipment then the view may be obscured,” he added.

The FTA said in recent years the requirement to adapt vehicles to include extra mirrors, cameras and sensors has been a priority for HGVs. “Now suddenly this one panel is the answer”, says Snelling, and operators who have already eliminated the blind spot through these methods will be forced to change their vehicles once more.

To support proactive operators who have already eliminated blind spots through technology or vehicle design, the FTA urged TfL to offer a discount on the London Congestion. 
Snelling added: “Wholly redesigned cabs with lower seats can eliminate far more blind spots – including those that affect pedestrian collisions as well as cyclists.  But they are much more expensive – partly because so few are made.  London can now help make these vehicles a part of the mainstream by allowing operators to off-set the cost of buying them against a reduced congestion charge.
TfL’s consultation asks Londoners whether they support the proposal in principle and if it should be enforced through an extension to the Safer Lorry Scheme or higher charges for non-compliant lorries under the Congestion Charge or Low Emission Zone regulations. It also asks whether the restrictions should be full-time, part-time or route-specific.

The public consultation runs until 4 March and TfL said there would be further public and stakeholder consultation before any decision on implementation is made, and time for operators to make the necessary changes to their lorries.

Operators slammed the concept of the proposals when first revealed by Johnson last September.


Watch now: A Week in Trucks episode 12

The latest episode of A Week in Trucks is live, with all the latest news and footage from the road haulage industry.

This week Ashleigh has the hotseat while Will and George go off on a jaunt to Dublin for the launch of new LDV vans. Will also braves the elements in an Iveco Stralis, driving through wind rain and snow to Orkney. We're told the arduous weather conditions were nothing on watching him reverse bay park on the port, though.

Also this week we give you details of Daf's Transport Efficiency Driver Challenge, open to all professional drivers with a clean licence. Plus, we take a look at what we think is the nicest Daf XF we've ever seen, also featured on the cover of this week's Commercial Motor. Don't believe us? See for yourself in this week's episode.