Fleet operators are being warned that their insurance may not be valid if their vehicles do not comply with new Direct Vision Standard from October 26, despite enforcement being delayed until March 2021.
The Direct Vision Standard introduces a permit system for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), assigning vehicles a star rating based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab window.
Anyone driving an HGV within Greater London without a valid HGV safety permit will face a penalty charge notice of up to £550, set to be enforced from October this year, but have now been delayed for four months to allow the freight industry to focus on core operations during the coronavirus pandemic.
But vehicles still need to comply to the new regulations by October – or in the event of an accident or insurance claim it could render the driver/operator liable for the vehicles not being fully compliant.
Road safety expert Emily Hardy, from Brigade Electronics, says it is a legal requirement, so if a vehicle is not compliant by the October 26 date and there is a collision, operators could be responsible for civil damages and insurers may not be obliged to pay out.
“Simply put, delaying the fines is not the same as changing the date of the legislation,” she said.
“This lack of clarity from TfL misleads the public into thinking they are free of risk in the event of a collision until next year.”
Brigade has other concerns with TfL’s Direct Vision Standard, such as is its misguided focus on ‘direct vision’ – where the driver sees through unimpeded line of sight – at the expense of ‘indirect vision’ – where drivers have an awareness of their surroundings through state-of-the-art camera monitor systems and ultrasonic obstacle detection.
TfL claims drivers using indirect vision have a slower response time, resulting in an increased incidence of simulated pedestrian collisions.
Less than one in four fleet managers say they are ready for the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and HGV Permit Scheme, a recent survey suggested.