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We recently reported on a scheme being implemented in Islington (a borough of London) requiring HGV drivers to take a Safe Urban Driving course before being legally allowed to operate in the borough. It now appears that Scotland has jumped on board with the idea. According to the Islington Gazette, Edinburgh Council is set to adopt this scheme for their city.

Once in play, a lorry licence will no longer be enough to legally operate HGVs within the Edinburgh city limits. Of course, the restrictions only apply to vehicles weighing in excess of 3.5 tons. However, are there really any HGVs that weigh less?

In order to legally operate in Edinburgh, drivers will have to take the seven-hour course administered in a single day. Like Islington, the Edinburgh Council has not said who is going to pay for the course or how much it will cost. Training will include time in the classroom as well as practical experience riding a bicycle on busy city streets.

Where all this ends up remains to be seen. However, it is likely more cities will follow the lead established by Islington and Edinburgh if, for no other reason, than to make it appear as though they are doing something to increase cyclist safety. Whether or not the Safe Urban Driving training scheme actually sees positive results is a matter of waiting and watching

Training Is Not the Problem

The increasingly loud calls to rein in HGV drivers in urban environments, and to require more training of them, remains a matter of debate. At the HGV Training Centre, we believe it is important to note that a lack of training is not the problem it is made out to be.

The difficulty with HGVs and cyclists in city environments can be summed up in one word: size. HGVs are very large and heavy vehicles while bicycles are very small and lightweight. The two were never designed to be operated side-by-side. Furthermore, city streets in Europe were never intended to accommodate the heavy traffic we are seeing today.

We agree that driver training is an important part of general road safety, especially as it applies to sharing the road with cyclists, cars, and motorbikes. Nevertheless, training is only one small part of the safety equation. More needs to be done to make cyclists aware of their own responsibilities, encourage them to use a bit of common sense, and require cyclists to take steps to become more visible.

In the end, safety is a joint effort between both drivers and cyclists. Both need to do their parts in order to avoid the accidents that so frequently end in serious injuries or death.

In the meantime, the HGV Training Centre will continue doing its part by offering comprehensive training to everyone who comes through our doors looking to earn a lorry license. Our training will continue to emphasise road safety, sharing the road with others, and being vigilant when working in urban environments.

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