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Richard Smith Managing Director, RHA

Compliance in the capital

New Direct Vision Standard rules will come into play later this year in London and we’re doing everything we can to help hauliers comply, says RHA's Managing Director Richard Smith.

Transport for London (TfL) is launching its ‘Progressive Safe System’ (PSS) for HGVs of more than 12 tonne gross weight operating in the capital from 28 October. This will apply to HGVs rated below three stars.

Keeping people safe on our roads is absolutely our number one priority. But we’re concerned about the timescales TfL has imposed amid doubts that the required kit will be available, and the practical and affordability challenges firms face to fit it. The new rules are causing a lot of uncertainty for firms entering and operating in London and we’re campaigning hard to ensure our industry’s voices are heard.

Supporting our industry through collaboration

We’ve been working with fellow trade bodies to take wide-ranging industry views on the obstacles we need to tackle so that operators have the support they need to meet new safety criteria. Together with Logistics UK and the Association of International Courier & Express Services, we have been extensively lobbying TfL and London councils. Hauliers affected by the upcoming changes consistently tell us that practical implementation of the new requirements from October are hugely challenging and in many cases not feasible. This ranges from whether there’s enough equipment available ahead of the deadline, to whether there are enough qualified technicians available to fit it.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that there’s a widening shortage of heavy vehicle technicians available to service our commercial vehicle fleets across the country – something we’re working hard to tackle through lobbying government. These are points we’re raising in our regular conversations with TfL and the Mayor’s office, including Seb Dance, the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport.

This all comes against the backdrop of affordability – especially for smaller businesses. The cost of living crisis is squeezing our industry and we’re seeing a huge number of hauliers going bust. More than 450 haulage firms went under last year – twice those in 2022 – amid rising operating costs (nearly 10 per cent, excluding fuel) and significant falls in freight volumes (10 per cent). We’ve warned that firms unable to comply in time might stop serving London at short notice which could lead to unforeseen problems in the capital’s supply chain and therefore its wider economy.

Our asks of Transport for London

We’re urging TfL to carefully listen to industry feedback, and we call on them to announce that existing vehicles would not have to be retrofitted with new kit – instead phasing in the criteria so that new trucks will be fitted with the equipment through natural fleet replacement cycles. We’re also calling on them to announce a reasonable extension to the grace period to allow kit manufacturers more time to supply the industry with what it needs to comply with PSS. Our conversations with TfL and London councils continue – and we will keep the industry updated with our progress.

For more information, please visit: www.rha.uk.net

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