Road safety organisations urge DfT to increase transparency of vehicle operator risk scores

Road safety campaigners and charitable organisations, including the Cyclists’ Defence Fund and CTC, the national cycling charity, have written to Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, to express their support for transparency in the data the Department for Transport (DfT) holds on lorry safety.

The DfT is reviewing all datasets which are not currently published and considering which could be published, including the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS).

The OCRS is used to calculate the risk of an operator not following the rules on roadworthiness (the condition of its vehicles) and traffic, such as drivers’ hours and weighing checks. This score is not made public at the moment and is only used by the Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to know which vehicles should be inspected for safety reasons.

The campaigners believe that the OCRS should be available to construction companies wishing to sub-contract work to other vehicle operators so they can assess the safety record of potential sub-contractors.

It is already common practice for operators to check CRB records for drivers they wish to employ, as well as their driving license records, to evaluate whether they are safe. The campaigners argue the same practice should be applied to OCRS.

Large vehicle operators have already expressed support for this idea, which would encourage smaller operators to implement the same standards as larger operators who voluntarily sign up to a construction industry code of practice. This would help to ensure that the whole supply chain is adhering to high standards.

h3. The risk of lorries to cyclists

  • Lorries make up roughly 5% of traffic in Great Britain but are on average involved in about 18% of cyclists’ road deaths per year (in London this figure jumps to about 31%).
  • For cyclists, collisions with lorries are far more likely to prove fatal than collisions with cars: in 2012, the cyclist was killed in nearly 25% of serious injury cyclists/goods vehicle collisions; this figure was a little over 2% for cyclists/cars. Equally, lorries were involved in just 1.5% of slight injuries to cyclists, but 19% of cyclists’ fatalities

    h3. Taking action on lorries

    h4. London lorry ban

    The Mayor of London and London Councils agreed jointly in January 2014 to ban large vehicles from London’s roads if they fail to meet high standards for cycle safety equipment. The ban could come into effect as early as September 2014.

    The proposed ban will require every vehicle in London over 3.5 tonnes – a disproportionate cause of cyclist and pedestrian deaths – to be fitted with sideguards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels. It will also require them to be fitted with mirrors giving the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles. It will be enforced by CCTV cameras and on-street checks, subject to approval by the Department for Transport.

    h4. Construction industry code of practice

    Together with Transport for London (TfL) the construction industry launched a code of practice in December 2013 focused on managing work related road risk (WRRR). 20 operators and contractors have signed up to the standard for construction logistics, which is an amalgamation of the toughest elements of existing standards used by organisations like Crossrail and the Mineral Products Association.

    h4. EU parliament transport committee vote to make lorries safer

    The EU parliament transport committee voted to change the rules for lorry cabs which would make lorries more fuel efficient and safer. Lorry manufacturers will be given more design space for the front end of the cab, allowing for a more streamlined nose. Parliament decided that some of the extra cab space has to be used to get rid of blind spots, include a crumple zone and to make sure pedestrians and cyclists are not knocked underneath the wheels in a collision. Parliament wants these life-saving features to become mandatory for all new lorries by 2022, but the decision needs to be approved by the 28 EU member states before it can become law.

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