London freight operators urged to apply for Direct Vision Standard permit

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Transport for London is urging freight operators to apply for a free Direct Vision Standard permit as soon as possible.

The organisation says the operators of many thousands of HGVs on London’s roads have not yet applied for the required safety permit before the safety scheme is introduced on March 1.

 At this point, all owners of HGVs over 12 tonnes will need to display a valid permit to continue operating in the city.

Introduced with the support of London Councils, TfL said its Direct Vision Standard will play a vital role in eliminating death and serious injuries 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.

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “Our world-leading Direct Vision Standard will remove the most dangerous lorries from our city’s streets and save lives.

“With record numbers of Londoners walking and cycling as a result of the pandemic, it’s vital that we do all we can to protect them.

“I urge all HGV operators to apply for their safety permits as soon as possible as there are now less than two months to go until enforcement begins.”

From March 1, 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.

HGV owners can 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.

TfL says applications may take between 10 and 28 days to process.

Operators who have applied before March 1 or are in the process of having the Safe System equipment fitted but have not yet received their safety permit will be added to an ‘allow list’ of vehicles, which will prevent them from incurring penalty charge notices (PCNs) for up to 90 days from the enforcement date.

The new system will require operators to provide details of their applications or planned safety system component installation, where applicable.

Data from TfL shows between 2018 and 2020, HGVs were involved in 41%of collisions where people cycling were killed and 19% of collisions where a pedestrian was killed.

On average, HGVs were involved in 15% of all road deaths over that period, despite making up just over 3% of vehicle traffic in London.

Natalie Chapman, head of policy – South at Logistics UK, said: “The safety of all London’s road users is of prime importance to Logistics UK.

“Our members have rolling programmes of safe system retrofit for their existing fleet as well as orders in place for new compliant vehicles, but these schedules are currently being disrupted due to ongoing challenges with the Covid pandemic. 

“The creation of an ‘allow list’ by the Mayor’s office and Transport for London (TfL) is welcome news for businesses as they adopt new vehicles or change the specification of their fleets.

“In addition, it is encouraging to see they have noted the need for improvements in the permit system to speed up processing of applications.

“Logistics UK will be working closely with TfL to clarify how the ‘allow list’ will work in practice and what fleet operators need to implement, as well as pressing for quicker turnaround times of permit applications.”

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