As part of a commitment to road safety for the city, London mayor Sadiq Khan developed the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) in consultation with an expert panel of researchers, academics and freight industry representatives, including Europe's foremost heavy goods vehicle (HGV) manufacturers and regulatory bodies. The scheme is part of Vision Zero, a global program designed to reduce deaths and injuries involving HGVs. London is leading the way, with the eventual goal of eliminating all deaths and serious injuries caused by road collisions in the city by 2041. According to statistics published by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, HGVs were involved in over 70% of cyclist fatalities, despite only accounting for 4% of road miles driven in London.
The DVS has been designed to eliminate blind spots, which are a major contributory factor in fatal collisions with cyclists and pedestrians. All lorries over 12 tonnes gross vehicle weight will need to hold a valid HGV Safety Permit to operate in Greater London, or risk fines of £550. These new requirements were to have come into force from 26 October 2020. Although the regulations still apply at that time, enforcement has been delayed for at least four months due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the extra time given for compliance, now is a perfect time to understand what it takes to comply with the new regulations. It's important to understand the star ratings of your HGVs and what you'll need to do to bring any zero-star vehicles into compliance. It is also a good opportunity to consider going beyond basic compliance to improve overall safety, operational efficiency, and customer service.
How DVS works
The DVS measures the driver's view through the windows of an HGV, issuing a star rating from zero to five to indicate the level of risk to nearby pedestrians and cyclists. A vehicle rated zero stars would obscure a driver's vision of a pedestrian within 4.5 meters of the cab side, whereas a five-star vehicle would afford direct vision of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists directly next to the vehicle.
Hauliers are directed to get information about their vehicles' star ratings from the manufacturers. If your vehicle is rated one to five stars, you can apply for a permit without providing additional documentation. Vehicles rated zero stars must be fitted with improvements to satisfy the DVS 'Safe System’. The requirements will be tightened in 2024, when the minimum star level will be raised from one to three.
The Safe System measures are designed to reduce HGV risks to pedestrians and cyclists by fitting equipment to eliminate blind spots, provide warnings of intended manoeuvres, and minimise physical hazards.
To apply for a permit as a zero-star vehicle, you must fit all the following safety equipment:
• Class V mirror fitted to the nearside of the vehicle
• Class VI mirror fitted to the front of the vehicle
• Side underrun protection at both sides of the vehicle
• External pictorial warnings and markings
• A sensor system that alerts the driver to a road user at the nearside of the vehicle
• An audible vehicle manoeuvring warning for left turns
• A camera monitoring system at the nearside of the vehicle
Zero star vehicles with an approved Safe System will be granted a permit until 25 October 2024, when the progressive Safe System will be required for all vehicles rated below three stars. At that time, the permits of vehicles rated one or two stars will expire; these vehicles will need to reapply for a ten-year permit under the progressive Safe System. Requirements will be evaluated in 2022 to take into account new safety technology; any such equipment deemed important will be added to the requirements and will need to be installed on vehicles below three stars before applying for a permit.
Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme
While undertaking compliance with the DVS Safe System, it is worth considering the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS), a voluntary accreditation that promotes best practices for commercial vehicle operators. As the Safe System requirements are met by the FORS Silver S6 scheme, it can make sense to comply with both standards at the same time. FORS Silver compliance has the added benefit that you are also compliant with the Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS) standard.
Becoming compliant with FORS Silver would meet the requirements for the DVS Safe System, increase your fleet safety, and demonstrate your commitment to reducing risk beyond basic legal requirements. In addition to the safety equipment listed in the DVS Safe System, the FORS Silver Standard requires cameras and monitors to show blind spot areas, noise pollution monitoring and protection, and evidence that your company actively manages road risk. FORS also recommends the use of DVRs for training and development in HGVs of 7.5 tonnes and above. Lytx video telematics solutions and our Driver Safety Programme can help you meet FORS standards, improve the overall safety of your fleet, and help your bottom line.
Where to start
If your fleet already consists of vehicle ratings of three stars or above, you should apply for DVS permits as soon as you can. If you're not sure, or if you have vehicles rated zero stars, the time to take action is now. Start by learning the DVS star rating of each HGV to determine whether you need to upgrade it by fitting additional safety equipment.
For any vehicles that must be upgraded, you should consider the opportunity to improve your fleet by meeting higher standards such as FORS Silver. The value of safety equipment goes beyond ticking a box and provides valuable capabilities to protect you and your drivers. Video telematics equipment including DVRs can offer significant returns on your investment, providing information that helps you increase safety and efficiency while lowering costs of operation.
This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal opinion or advice.