London needs much stronger enforcement against operators who put profits before lives by allowing unlicensed, untrained lorry drivers, or unsafe vehicles, to operate on our roads. In its first month of enforcement the City of London Police Commercial Vehicle Unit found that, 95 of the suspect 136 lorries they stopped had to be taken off the road for non-compliance or safety reasons, including lack of insurance, driving without the appropriate licence, with an unsafe load, or not accurately recording driver hours.
Lorry driver Barry Meyer was unlicensed and uninsured when he ran over and killed Alan Neve in Holborn in July 2013, and had been banned from driving several times previously. While Mr Meyer was sentenced to three and a half years in jail, the police have yet to take action to prosecute the operator that allowed Mr Meyer to drive without checking that he had a valid licence. The lorry owner and transport manager who employed Barry Meyer failed to turn up to an inquiry set up by the government's Traffic Commissioner. Their operating licence was revoked however it appears that another family member had already set up a licence in a different name allowing them to continue putting dangerous lorries on London streets.
Traffic Commissioners lack the resources to stop this common practice of evading enforcement. The law must protect cyclists from the risk of death or serious injury by ensuring dangerous drivers are never allowed to drive a heavy goods vehicle on London’s roads.
Much more attention needs to be given to the management of lorry operators, drivers and vehicle fleets. Best practice standards, as established by Transport for London’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) and its Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLoCS) initiatives, should be a requirement in all contracts. The Traffic Commissioners and Health & Safety Executive need to be given greater powers and resources to act as effective safety regulators, to remove unsafe lorry operators from the roads.
Organisations which hire lorry operators need to have access to information about lorry operators’ safety records, known as Operator Risk Compliance Scores (OCRS). At present, OCRS data (which are based on operators' records in MOT tests, roadside checks, Traffic Commissioners' findings and other sources) are collected by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, but are confidential, being available only to the operators themselves. Publishing this data would enable clients to show due diligence by avoiding operators with poor safety records when contracting for haulage and other lorry services.