Cities should not be setting vehicle design standards, says FTA

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The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed a consultation, launched today (Tuesday, January 8), on London’s proposed Direct Vision Standard (DVS).

However, while the six-week consultation will give operators the chance to contribute their opinions on the new scheme, FTA does not believe that individual cities should be setting vehicle design standards.

Natalie Chapman, head of south of England and urban policy, at the FTA, said: “The future of road safety will be delivered through technological development and new vehicle design standards which FTA believes will be best set at an international level. 

“It is misleading to expect all vehicle designs to be modified for the UK market – new cab design takes years and millions of pounds of investment to be brought to market, and manufacturers are unlikely to develop new vehicles for use in a single city, even one as busy as London. 

“FTA has always believed that technological innovation is the only way to deliver the Mayor’s vision for an end to deaths and serious injuries on the capital’s roads by 2041.”

The Direct Vision Standard, and associated Safety Permit for HGVs that have retrofitted a Safe System, will reduce road danger for people across the capital, says Transport for London (TfL). 

In 2017 around 4,000 people were killed or seriously injured in collisions on London’s streets. TfL research shows that between 2015 and 2017 HGVs were disproportionately involved in fatal collisions, with 63% of those involving people cycling and 25% of those involving people walking. This is despite HGVs only making up four per cent of the overall miles driven in the capital.

TfL is now asking people to have their say on the final scheme proposals with a particular focus on the HGV safety permit processes.

Christina Calderato, head of delivery planning at TfL, said: “London is leading the way with truck safety and we invite views on our final proposals."

As part of the consultation, people can comment on:

  • The process for obtaining a vehicle’s direct vision star rating
  • The safe system requirements
  • The permit application and administration process
  • The enforcement and appeals process

The FTA is calling on commercial fleet operators to respond to the consultation.

“It is encouraging to note that many of FTA member’s suggestions have already been taken on board as plans for the London Direct Vision Standard have progressed, with a recognition of the need for greater detail on how the programme will actually operate now available,” continued Chapman. 

“It is also welcome to see that those operating larger fleets will not be required to provide as much detail as first thought – logistics is already one of the most heavily legislated sectors of industry, and additional bureaucratic burdens at a time when the industry is under great economic and trading pressures would have been untenable.

“FTA is still keen to see how DVS can be adapted and moderated to make it workable for all, without the need for unnecessary financial penalties, time or operating burdens.  If the industry can make its voice heard, we are confident that TfL will listen to what we have to say, for the sake of the London economy.”

Subject to final consultation, permits will be issued from October this year. Operators will be able to apply for a permit via an online application portal on TfL’s website to help make the process as straightforward as possible.

The timeline for Direct Vision Standard is as follows:

  • October 2019: The first permits will be issued. Trucks rated 0* will need to upgrade to a Safe System in order to get a permit
  • 2020: Enforcement begins
  • 2024: The minimum Direct Vision Standard star rating increases from one to three star or a progressive Safe System

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