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TfL’s construction industry review highlights action needed to deliver step-change in road safety

Transport for London (TfL) has today published the findings of the first independent review into construction logistics and cyclist safety. This was commissioned by TfL following the worrying number of collisions involving construction vehicles and cyclists in recent years.

Between 2008 and 2011, 56 per cent of the cycling fatalities in London have involved large commercial vehicles, including a disproportionate number of construction vehicles. In light of this, TfL commissioned an independent report in January 2012, carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), to look specifically at how cycle safety is considered within the design and operation of construction vehicles within the construction industry more widely.

The independent review builds on the work that TfL has carried out to deliver improvements to the freight industry and improve cyclist safety across London. Since 2008, its Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) has been adopted by more than 1,890 companies, including 28 London Boroughs, covering 135,859 vehicles. In addition, all TfL and Crossrail contracts now require their vehicles to meet strict safety standards and have cycle specific safety equipment, including side-bars, blind spot mirrors and detection equipment fitted to reduce the risk of collisions on the capital’s roads.

Detailed analysis from the TRL report revealed that the excellent levels of safety management that the construction industry provides on worksites needs to be extended to all vehicle movements related to the construction project, whether these movements are on or off site. This would help ensure greater responsibility is placed upon contractors to monitor and where necessary improve driver behaviour to further reduce the risk placed to cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

The independent review therefore outlines 12 recommendations which would deliver a real step-change in road safety within the industry. These include:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should look at extending regulations that govern the reporting of on road collisions. That could help bring greater responsibility on contractors to monitor and, where necessary, improve driver behaviour.

Vehicle manufacturers should carry out more research into the blind spots of construction vehicles. Research in the report shows that certain models of cement mixers can have a blind spot which is up to 50 per cent larger than that of a 7.5 tonne "curtain-sided" delivery lorry.

Contractors and their clients should look into setting more realistic time slots for deliveries. That could help reduce pressure on drivers facing challenging delivery deadlines and help reduce the risk of driver errors.

Off the back of this research, London’s transport commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE has begun contacting the Health and Safety Executive, Stephen Hammond MP – Minister for Road Safety and Freight, and the European Commission to discuss how the recommendations of the report can be delivered through partnership working.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "There is a clear and urgent need to address the spate of serious incidents we have seen involving construction vehicles and cyclists over recent years. That is why my team commissioned the first ever independent review of the relationship between construction vehicles and cyclist safety. The report contains some hugely important findings and our task now is to press the construction industry, safety regulators, highway authorities and politicians to make it a priority to take forward the recommendations made in this report."

London’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE said: "It is clear there is a responsibility for all parties, including cyclists, the construction and haulage industries, safety regulators, highway authorities and ourselves, to take steps to improve the safety of cyclists and ensure that as many of the recommendations detailed in this report are delivered. By working closely together with stakeholders, we can build on the changes we have already delivered and ensure further vital safety improvements for cyclists and other vulnerable road users."

Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive, Mineral Products Association (MPA) said: "Vulnerable road user safety is a priority for MPA companies and we have introduced policy to accelerate further driver training and the fitting of additional safety equipment. We will continue to work closely with TfL, Government, cycling organisations and colleagues in the construction industry to help ensure road safety is improved"

To download a copy of the independent review of construction vehicles, please visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk/microsites/freight/publications.aspx

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