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Richard Smith Managing Director, Road Haulage Association

Clarity call on compliance in the capital

RHA's Richard Smith discusses the urgent need for clarity on the impending Direct Vision Standard rules, calling for an extended grace period amidst rising cost pressures on hauliers.

I was delighted to catch up with London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Seb Dance, at the Mayor of London’s headquarters at City Hall recently. A key topic of discussion was the impending new Direct Vision Standard rules set to take effect later this year.

We discussed the challenges hauliers are facing with the new changes, the need for the grace period to be extended by 18 months to allow operators time to comply, as well as the urgent clarity needed on the specifications. We all want roads to be even safer but we must implement new safety measures in the right way. Firms must be supported in this process but many are concerned about timescales, affordability, and availability of new kit.

These have been common themes from feedback we’re getting about the measures, including from nearly 700 survey responses, our recent webinar, which was attended by more than 100 businesses, and in other conversations with our members.

I updated the Deputy Mayor on the results of the member survey on DVS which showed over 80 per cent of operators say they needed more time to fit compliant kit and over 60 per cent of operators now believe they will need to change their delivery patterns, with a third stating that they will either permanently reduce the number of lorries entering London or not service London at all.

All of this is against the backdrop of crippling cost pressures with record numbers of hauliers going bust last year and the trend continuing. 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).

Your feedback gives us the insight to articulate the right solutions to help firms comply with new criteria to improve safety on the capital’s roads. This informs our ongoing conversations with TfL and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our members and others in our industry for continuing to engage with us.

We will keep members updated on our conversations with TfL and look forward to working with the Deputy Mayor on the priorities set out in our London Manifesto. We also continue to represent the concerns of our members in collaboration with Logistics UK, Association of International Courier & Express Services, and other trade bodies across the sector, 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

We’ve also updated our FAQs on the new PSS to help you ensure your fleets meet the new criteria.

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

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