Recently the news throughout the country has been awash with reports of fatal HGV crashes that ought to have been prevented. Stretching from London all the way up to Edinburgh, and a recent fatal accident in Bath, a recent report suggests that these accidents are to be blamed on ‘ill-conceived reforms’.
In a press statement released by the British Aggregates Association (BAA) it was claim that, “it is becoming increasingly clear that new regulations introduced to ‘improve road safety’ have had the opposite effect and people may be dying as a result”.
Most of these fatal accidents involved a young HGV driver – one such incident involving an 18 year old. Recent reforms in the minimum age for HGV drivers, and the relaxation of insurance policies on younger drivers means that anyone over the age of 18 can apply for a license and pass their qualifications. Whilst this is good news for younger, adept drivers, this also means that a lot of inexperienced workers find themselves sat behind the wheels of 32-tonne trucks.
The industry has also seen a large decline in experienced drivers since a 2005 reform pushed many to leave the industry. At this time pressure groups managed to successfully campaign for the working time directive to become mandatory for the haulage industry, whereas other industries could opt out. Whilst forcing a certain and necessary discussion on safety, there are compelling statistics that back up what has seen to be an exodus, with many owner-drivers stating that a maximum working week of 48 hours meant they could no longer support their profession.
Further regulations on ‘professional competence’ saw the introduction of the certificate of professional competence (CPC), which required drivers to sit through five 7-hour lectures on first aid and eco-driving if they wanted to keep their license. Recent estimations put the figure of those who left their jobs, rather than sit through these modules at 20,000.
It is this combination of factors that the BAA director Robert Durward blames for a recent spate of fatal road accident involving HGVs, stating that, “It is highly likely that if none of the above measures had been introduced then a relatively inexperienced driver would not have found himself in a restricted area of Bath with such tragic consequences”.
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