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“World-first for lorry safety” as Transport for London's Direct Vision Standard comes into effect

Operators of HGVs being driven on capital's streets without safety permit now face fines...

Transport for London (TfL) has hailed “a world-first for lorry safety” as its Direct Vision Standard (DVS) lorry safety scheme today comes into full round-the-clock operation on all streets in the capital, having been postponed from its planned implementation last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 90,000 permits have been issued so far under the scheme, which is aimed at removing the most dangerous lorries from the roads and encouraging operators to adhere to the highest levels of safety and forms part of the Mayor’s Vision Zero strategy.

Under the scheme, HGVs of 12 tonnes and above are assigned a rating of between 0 and 5 stars, depending on how much the driver can see from the cab, as this video explains.

Operators of vehicles rated with 0 stars were required to be fitted with a range of safety features, as follows, with more than 30,000 now made safer as a result of the DVS.

cameras covering blind spots linked to a video display in the cab

an audible warning when turning left

motion sensors covering the sides of the lorry at low speeds

a prominent warning on the back of their vehicle.

TfL points out that already, a number of fleet operators and major infrastructure projects such as Tideway, have made significant investment to comply with a 5-star rating, with 3,000 such vehicles so far securing it.

Operators of vehicles without a valid permit will be subject to a penalty charge notice of £550, and from 2024 only ones rated 3 stars and above will be allowed on London’s streets.

According to TfL, while large lorries only accounted for 3 per cent of total miles driven in the city from 2018-20, during that period they were involved in 41 per cent of cyclist fatalities and 19 per cent of crashes in which a pedestrian was killed.

Today also sees the implementation of a stricter Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standard, under which heavy vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches and specialist vehicles have to meet Euro VI (NOx and PM) emissions standards or pay a daily charge to drive within the Greater London area.

TfL says that despite the pandemic, compliance with the existing Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards increased during 2020 despite the pandemic, underlining the effectiveness of such schemes in improving air quality.

London’s walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, said: “I’m really proud that London is leading the way and our world-first Direct Vision Standard is now in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week across all the roads in our city.

“This will save lives and improve road safety from day one by reducing lethal HGV blindspots, with more than 30,000 lorries fitted with vehicle safety measures ahead of enforcement beginning.

“More Londoners are walking and cycling than ever before and by taking this bold action we are doing all we can to protect them.”

He added: “It is a major step forward in the Mayor’s Vision Zero plan to eradicate all deaths and injuries from our roads, and is also set to transform road safety across Europe in the coming years.”

Christina Calderato, Head of Transport Planning at TfL, commented: “We know that the Direct Vision Standard will protect all Londoners who walk and cycle by ensuring that the most dangerous vehicles on our streets have effective safety measures. This will prevent needless death and injury on our roads - there will be people alive by the end of this year who wouldn’t have been if we hadn’t taken this bold and necessary action.

“We are immensely proud that our Direct Vision Standard – a world-first for lorry safety – will not only save lives in London, but in the UK and all over Europe as operators upgrade their entire fleets, sometimes upgrading hundreds of vehicles. This vital step is core to our Vision Zero plan to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on London’s roads.”

The implementation of the DVS has been welcomed by road safety campaigners, with Victoria Lebrec, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Communications at RoadPeace, saying: “In 2014 a driver behind the wheel of a lorry failed to see me whilst I was cycling, and crushed me.

“I lost my leg as a result of the crash, and have been left permanently disabled. The Direct Vision Standard will prevent crashes like mine. Transport for London should be commended for introducing the scheme, which will save lives and prevent serious injury.

“I urge operators to go beyond the minimum star rating standard required now, and ensure their vehicles have as much direct vision as possible.”

Due to the challenges the logistics sector has faced due to the COVID-19 crisis, TfL has created an “allow list” of vehicles booked in to have safe systems fitted for operators that applied prior to the deadline, meaning they will not be subject to fixed penalty notices during the initial 90 days that the scheme is in operation.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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21 comments

Avatar
Jem PT | 3 years ago
7 likes

This is an excellent scheme and should be rolled out nationwide.

A few years ago the Met Police had an HGV tractor unit parked up at Hyde Park Corner. It was a modern unit with all mirrors, sensors, etc. Anybody could get in the cab and the idea was to show other road users how poor the truck drivers view was from the cab. I was shocked at how little the driver could see and it certainly made me think twice before getting too close to any large vehicle in traffic again. When you saw how little they could see, it is no wonder that there have been so many fatalities in on the roads in city centres. It begs the question why they were ever allowed on the road in the first place?

Avatar
Jenova20 | 3 years ago
6 likes

"a prominent warning on the back of their vehicle."

These have always been pointless for me. Example: often a vehicle with one of these stickers will overtake me, then block my path completely at lights, even with a cycle lane, or to pick up passengers, etc. Dangerous for me to pass. In my experience these stickers signify that the driver of the vehicle needs a warning because they're not looking out for other road users. I've even got a decent selection of videos of me being close passed by drivers with these warning stickers on their vehicles. Pushing many of these large vehicles off small and residential roads would be far more effective.

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
2 likes
Jenova20 wrote:

"a prominent warning on the back of their vehicle."

These have always been pointless for me. Example: often a vehicle with one of these stickers will overtake me, then block my path completely at lights, even with a cycle lane, or to pick up passengers, etc. Dangerous for me to pass. In my experience these stickers signify that the driver of the vehicle needs a warning because they're not looking out for other road users. I've even got a decent selection of videos of me being close passed by drivers with these warning stickers on their vehicles. Pushing many of these large vehicles off small and residential roads would be far more effective.

Quite, this always seems to me to mean "Beware! Dangerous driver at the wheel"

Having also trained commercial drivers in road safety, I often got the question "we should put stickers on the vans telling cyclists not to undertake" basically meaning "I'm not going to check my inside before turning left"

 

Avatar
Prosper0 | 3 years ago
4 likes

This is such a good scheme. Honestly better for everyone. 

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zero_trooper | 3 years ago
11 likes

Those stats about % of goods vehicles involved in fatal accidents is pretty grim.

They'll bring this scheme in and after 6 months realise that it should have been done years ago.

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Philh68 replied to zero_trooper | 3 years ago
3 likes

They've brought it in after realising it should have been done years ago.

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Rich_cb | 3 years ago
10 likes

Fair play to Sadiq Khan, sounds like a good scheme.

Hopefully the rest of the country will follow London's lead on this.

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PRSboy replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
5 likes

Indeed. Surely not being able to see properly out of  lorry is a problem anywhere, not just London. Should it not be part of a vehicle's general roadworthiness certificate?

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zero_trooper replied to PRSboy | 3 years ago
1 like

Only a problem for vulnerable road users!

Maybe opinions are changing <crossed fingers>

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fwhite181 replied to PRSboy | 3 years ago
3 likes

Totally agree - it astounds me how the design of an unarguably safer (for everyone not in the lorry) design has existed for years, but hasn't been made compulsory on new lorry builds. It'll be interesting to see the first case raised where a cyclist requests the footage from the blind-spot cameras and/or evidence that they were being used correctly. It could open up some interesting problems for inattentive HGV drivers trying to cry 'SMIDSY'. 

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Rich_cb replied to PRSboy | 3 years ago
5 likes

You would think so wouldn't you!

I've always thought that those 'Warning, Blind Spot' stickers are essentially an admission that their vehicle is unroadworthy!

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Titanus replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
2 likes

Good point. Would be a bit like me wearing a T-shirt with the words "WARNING, violent when angry". Would this make people less inclined to piss me off? Does it count as a mitigating thingy if I punch someone and fail to get away with it?

 

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OldRidgeback replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
0 likes

Yes indeed, tho it won't stop people moaning about Sadiq Khan sadly

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Jetmans Dad replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
3 likes

I was roundly ganged up on, and slagged off, on Twitter a couple of years ago for suggesting it was ridiculous that such large and dangerous vehicles with massive blindspots were still permitted to move around so close to vulnerable road users when safer designs were available. 

The upshot of the slagging off was that it was unreasonable to expect companies to spend any money on protecting the lives of cyclists (in particular). 

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Jetmans Dad | 3 years ago
0 likes
Jetmans Dad wrote:

I was roundly ganged up on, and slagged off, on Twitter a couple of years ago for suggesting it was ridiculous that such large and dangerous vehicles with massive blindspots were still permitted to move around so close to vulnerable road users when safer designs were available. 

The upshot of the slagging off was that it was unreasonable to expect companies to spend any money on protecting the lives of cyclists (in particular). 

That's why you got grief. Pedestrians are real humans not road lice, so any arguments for safety need to be of benefit to them. Anything that makes things safer for riders is wrong before you open your mouth.

Avatar
OldRidgeback replied to Jetmans Dad | 3 years ago
0 likes

I've driven a few large HGVs, in an off-road circuit, and I know how restricted the visibility is. I'm always careful when I'm cycling close to a truck and try and keep my distance. Tipper trucks and skip trucks have a particularly bad record on crashes, often because of the way the firms are run and how drivers get paid/load, as much as who ends up driving them. This is a really good move by TfL.  

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hawkinspeter replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
1 like

Yes, it's a good move, but maybe just a few decades late. Still, at least it's only people's lives that were destroyed.

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Captain Badger replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
3 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

Fair play to Sadiq Khan, sounds like a good scheme. Hopefully the rest of the country will follow London's lead on this.

I'm just waiting for Sean Bailey to offer compensation to dangerous vehicle drivers as an election pledge

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
3 likes
Captain Badger wrote:
Rich_cb wrote:

Fair play to Sadiq Khan, sounds like a good scheme. Hopefully the rest of the country will follow London's lead on this.

I'm just waiting for Sean Bailey to offer compensation to dangerous vehicle drivers as an election pledge

Nah, he'd accuse them of just spending it on lots of drugs.

Wasn't he the bloke who thought that homeless people could save up money for a deposit on a house?

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
3 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

...

Nah, he'd accuse them of just spending it on lots of drugs.

Wasn't he the bloke who thought that homeless people could save up money for a deposit on a house?

Nothing that tool could say would surprise me....

Avatar
brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
1 like

Yep, that's the one (easy to save up £5K deposit when you're sofa surfing as a homeless family, apparently).

And any sort of universal basic income is just not even worth trying because 'they'll spend it all on drugs'.

And he thought he could get away with sending out all his 'please vote for me' literature branded up as if he was the incumbent mayor of london.

Twnnt surprise

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