Chairman's Update 20/1/2021
In May 2016 I gave evidence against Smart Motorways and the way they were being rolled out. I questioned emergency refuge areas spacing, I questioned signage and the education of motorists and I questioned the validity and safety of THE RED X signs displayed on the gantries.
In 2018, I founded the campaign for safer roadside rescue and recovery. Ably supported by Sir Mike Penning, Tracey Crouch and many of their colleagues in the House of Commons, I would like to think CSRRR had a major role to play in that no new sections of smart motorways were opened until the outcome of Stocktake was released by SoS for Transport, Grant Shapps MP.
While this is of little comfort to the relatives and families of those people who were killed on Smart Motorways, of which some deaths were avoidable, I am now more confident that those people have not died in vain, and my personal condolences goes out to each and every one of you, your pain is unimaginable!
It is no secret that In the past I have personally have been a long time critic of Highways England, and not just about Smart Motorways! However after every battle in order for it to be worth while you have to win the peace!
Brexit is a classic example of 2 bodies who were worlds apart now working together in the best interests of Europe as a whole! Since 2018 I have seen that sea of change within Highways England. The attitude, the continuity, the honesty, but most of all Highways England’s commitment to not only working alongside the recovery industry in our daily plight of keeping the SRN , running safely and efficiently, but to improving safety and standards on Smart Motorways!
Since September 2018 when PROF had its first meeting with Highways England, together we have worked tirelessly to effect the safety of road users, Recovery industry VROs , and of course the public we all serve. The new acting CEO of Highways England, Nick Harris has been instrumental in encouraging and actioning the new various new strategic partnerships that have either been signed or are in the pipeline. Nick Harris personally initiated the Highways England Recovery Industry Executive Group which includes all of the industry major stakeholders.
We now have a Smart Motorways working group which began last year , and is currently tackling the very subjects I brought up at the 2016 select committee!
1. Red X's.
2. Emergency refuge areas, size and spacing.
3. Signs, digital and otherwise.
4. Faster communications between, stranded motorists, motoring organisation, and Highways England traffic officer .
I am proud to say all of these very relevant points are being worked on and will help to reduce deaths at the roadside. Those that know me, and know PROF will understand my direct approach to all matters as important as Smart Motorways and will know I will not pay lip service or be patronised into stating anything but the truth! But I speak the truth when I state, Highways England is a different animal to the Highways Agency! Nick Harris and his team have been a breath of fresh air in dealing with a government agency that actually listens and is working with us!
The strategic partnerships across the board will unite and bring together a cohesive industry whose main objectives will be to raise standards, increase the safety of all road users and ultimately save lives! Sadly we cannot change the past, but together we are working every day to improve the future.
Sir Mike Penning and Tracey Crouch committed their time , their passion and their reputations supporting the CSRRR. Their continued support will never be undermined or compromised by PROF. However I am confident that the new regime and the people I speak to on a weekly sometimes daily basis will deliver a safer strategic road network.
Our work continues on a weekly basis, not just on Smart motorways but on COVID 19, on going risk assessments and ongoing standards and safety. But we do this work now as partners, not as individual entities.
Below is an article from Sundays Telegraph Newspaper which we hope confirms that the industry is about to become a safer place. Of course there is still much more to do but at least the CSRRR has got us this far.
A message from the Chairmen
The campaign for red lights is currently being reviewed by the government which is of course welcomed by the rescue and recovery industry. Many different industry stakeholders are now, or have already been asked to give evidence in support of red lights, and as the founder of both the campaign for red lights and safer smart motorways I welcome the positive support we are now getting across the board. However, I am very conscious that certain trade associations that were both mute and inactive for decades until the campaigns gained media and government profile, are once again trying to connect their winch cables to the PROF band wagon! Of course an industry win is an industry win and safer VROs and the recovery industry's higher profile in the corridors of Westminster is a win in itself, but credit were credit is due please guys?
Lets not forget the late great Dave Gregory was the catalyst in creating the entities that became both PROF and the CSRRR by putting me together with Tendo consulting, who let’s face it without them and Sir Mike Penning the campaign would never have got off the ground! - RISC and Andy Lambert have also played a major role with both financial support and constructive administrative input. Also Call Assist, LV Britannia Rescue, Allianz global, IVR, NTDA, Creative Funding and APEX have also been supporters. Win lose or draw, collectively these are the people that have got red lights to the critical Government review stage and as we all patiently wait for the governments conclusion we should all take credit as a united industry in asking the question that should have been asked decades ago instead of creating the illusion that it had been!
It also occurs to me that many of those organisations mentioned may have missed Sir Mike Penning's interview with Kay Burly on Sky regarding red lights, because at the time of airing they were attending the launch of The Professional Operators Federation in Westminster and so we have reproduced it in our Media section (Click Here to Watch).
In further news - It is my great pleasure to announce that the Professional Recovery Operators Federation now has a seat on the NRITG. We were recently unanimously voted onto NRITG, by the current board who have recognised the vital contribution PROF has made to the recovery industry in the 2 short years since our launch.
I am positive that PROF can in the future contribute in maintaining the very high standards that our industry demands. During these most difficult of times safety and standards are of paramount importance! The IVR in particular are the recovery industry flag bearer of the very best in practical and innovative training along with best working practices,! the Professional Recovery Operators Federation looks forward to both learning from and working together with the IVR on improving and maintaining recovery industry standards. Along with the strategic partnership agreement, which was a PROF initiative, this is another positive step in uniting the recovery industry , giving us a stronger voice and professional image.
London freight operators urged to apply for a Direct Vision Standard safety permit as soon as possible as the countdown to enforcement begins
Transport for London (TfL) is reminding heavy goods vehicle (HGV) operators to apply for a free safety permit as soon as possible, with less than two months to go until the introduction of London’s pioneering Direct Vision Standard. Enforcement will begin on 1 March, by which time all owners of HGVs over 12 tonnes – including those rated between one-star and five-star – will need to display a valid permit to continue operating the capital. TfL’s Direct Vision Standard will play a vital role in eliminating death and serious injuries from London's streets. Introduced with the support of London Councils, it is set to reduce lethal blind spots by introducing a permit system for HGVs, assigning vehicles a star rating based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab window
The latest data from TfL shows that HGVs continue to be disproportionately involved in fatal collisions. Between 2018 and 2020*, HGVs were involved in 41 per cent of collisions where people cycling were killed and 19 per cent of collisions where a pedestrian was killed. On average, HGVs were involved in 15 per cent of all road deaths over that period, despite making up just over three per cent of vehicle traffic in London. This means that HGVs are five times more likely to be involved in a collision resulting in a fatality, relative to their share of traffic. Each fatality has caused heartbreak and trauma for everyone involved, and each is an unacceptable tragedy. TfL is committed to creating a safer future for everyone in the capital.
From 1 March 2021, the Direct Vision Standard will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be enforced on all roads in London. HGVs will need to meet a minimum one-star rating to enable them to operate in the capital or will need to fit Safe System measures to improve the vehicle's safety. So far, more than 50,000 safety permits have been issued. However, there remain many thousands of HGVs on London’s roads whose operators have not yet applied for a required free safety permit. HGV owners are advised to check TfL’s online vehicle registration checker to see the star rating of their HGV and apply for a safety permit urgently if they have not already done so. While TfL will process all permit applications as quickly as possible, operators are advised that applications may take between 10 and 28 days to process. A tighter Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standard will also come into force from 1 March to coincide with enforcement of the Direct Vision Standard. Current LEZ emissions standards set a limit for how much particulate matter (PM) a vehicle may emit. From March there will also be a limit for nitrogen oxides (NOx) for some vehicles, in line with the tough requirements in place for the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Heavy vehicles including lorries, buses, coaches and specialist vehicles will need to meet Euro VI (NOx and PM) emissions standards or pay a daily charge to drive within the Greater London area. The standards were previously set to take effect at the end of October 2020 but were postponed to give affected businesses more time to meet them as they face intense demands from the coronavirus pandemic.
Vehicle owners can check their compliance with the new LEZ emissions standards by visiting?Tfl.gov.uk/lez?or searching ‘LEZ’.