Commercial fleets operating within the M25 are being urged to apply now for a HGV safety permit so they can continue to use their vehicles in London.
The capital’s Direct Vision Standard (DVS) comes into force from October 26, 2020. It requires HGVs to meet a minimum ‘one-star’ rating or for operators to fit ‘Safe System’ measures to improve vehicle safety.
Based on how much a driver can see directly through their cab windows, the star system rates HGVs over 12 tonnes from zero (lowest) to five (highest).
Vehicles rated between one star and five-star will be compliant until 2024, when vehicles two star and below will require a ‘Progressive Safe System’ in order to operate in London (subject to consultation).
Christina Calderato, head of transport strategy and planning at Transport for London (TfL), said: “Transforming the safety of HGVs will dramatically reduce road danger for people walking and cycling, helping us to ensure everyone gets home safely every day.”
HGVs are disproportionately involved in fatal collisions. While they accounted for just 4% of the overall miles driven in the capital between 2015 and 2017, they were involved in 63% of fatal collisions involving cyclists and 25% involving pedestrians.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “So many of the tragic deaths on our roads involve HGVs and this new scheme will help save lives.
“Forward-looking businesses have already been choosing safer vehicles in the run-up to HGV safety permits becoming available.
“Operators now have 12 months to upgrade their fleets, helping make our streets much safer for people walking and cycling.”
Owners of vehicles rated zero-star will need to improve the overall safety of their vehicle by fitting a ‘Safe System’ to reduce the risk it presents to people walking, cycling and riding motorcycles before enforcement begins. These include a camera monitoring system, a noise alert when turning left and sensors.
Fitting the ‘Safe System’ will not improve a vehicle’s DVS star rating but will bring the safety standard of the vehicle up to allow operators to apply for a permit.
HGV operators who fail to meet these new minimum safety standards and obtain a permit will be issued a penalty charge for driving in the capital of £550 per day, which will be reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days.
DVS will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be enforced within the Greater London boundary.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) supports the mayor’s ambition, but believes DVS is not the most effective route to improving safety.
Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at the FTA, said: “We do not believe DVS is the most effective approach – it is a limited and expensive intervention.
“Instead, Sadiq Khan should have focused on the development of technological safety solutions, such as advanced cameras, sensors, and automatic emergency braking which would work to eliminate the element of human error.”
Snelling said he was relieved, however, to see that those operating larger fleets will no longer be required to provide as much detail as first thought. “Logistics is already one of the most heavily legislated sectors of industry and more administrative burden would have been untenable,” he said.
FTA is advising businesses which work in the capital to apply for HGV Safety permits now to ensure they can continue operating their vehicles in London after the first phase of DVS launches next October.
John Hix, Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) director, welcomed the safety initiative, but acknowledged it would prove challenging for some operators.
“The FORS requirements align with those of the DVS,” said Hix. “If you’ve got a FORS vehicle with ‘silver’ safety equipment, you will be able to apply for your HGV safety permit for the DVS scheme.
“Anything that is trying to reduce accidents involving vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians in the urban environment is a good thing.
“Some operators will have to change their vehicle specifications to meet it; that will be challenging.”
Operators should contact their vehicle manufacturer to confirm their star rating if their vehicle is not yet rated on a database located on the TfL website.
Vehicles without permits once enforcement begins will be assumed to have a zero-star rating.
Businesses can apply for HGV Safety Permits by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk/direct-vision-standard.