Hammond experiences driver challenges with ELB
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By Ashleigh Wight TRANSPORT MINISTER Stephen Hammond went on the road with Wimbledon-based ELB Partners last week
(31 January) to experience what it is like to be a truck driver in central and south London. MD Peter Eason (pictured left) took Hammond (right) on a three-hour journey in one of the firm's 44-tonne artics so he could see the challenges operators face when they deliver in the capital, particularly highlighting the company's concerns with
cycle safety. The operator also raised
concerns about the financial cost of fitting cycle safety equipment to vehicles that deliver in London. He suggested a reduced Congestion Charge rate for a
couple of years for vehicles with the equipment fitted, which would help hauliers offset the cost.
Eason welcomed London mayor Boris Johnson's Safer Lorry Scheme (see page 4), which will ban vehicles over 3.5 tonnes without sideguards and cycle-safety mirrors from entering the capital.
"If it saves a life, then that's fantastic," said Eason. "There's no reason why every 7.5-tonne vehicle upwards shouldn't have sideguards and mirrors." The company has fitted all vehicles in its 40-strong fleet with additional cycle safety equipment, including cameras and audible left
turn alert. All of its drivers have completed Transport for London's urban awareness training as part of their Driver CPC.
However, Eason argued that he would like to see mandatory training for cyclists, especially for those who break the law. "When they are stopped for jumping a red light, rather than receiving a £60 fine, send them on a day's training," he said.
Eason also spoke to Hammond, who is the firm's local MP, about the lack of young drivers in the industry and suggested a government-led apprenticeship scheme would help attract more young people into haulage.