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Changes to Direct Vision Standard: What does this mean for fleets?


From the 28 October 2024, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 12 tonnes will be required to have a minimum three-star DVS rating to continue operations in the Greater London area. Vehicles falling beneath the three-star threshold must fit a Progressive Safe System, which provides drivers with visual alerts of vulnerable road users, to remain operational in the capital. With an estimated 165,000 HGVs in the UK at risk of penalties if they fail to adapt to meet the new requirements, fleet operators are now looking for guidance on these changes, and how it will affect their drivers and operations in and around London, says Paul Lawrence, managing director of AddSecure UK, North America and Australia.

The new DVS and HGV Safety Permit are part of the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero plan, with the aim to enhance the safety of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, and eliminate all fatalities caused by vehicles within Greater London by 2041. This follows Transport for London (TfL)’s recent conclusion that the old Safe System, authorised in 2021, is no longer adequate for improving the vision of drivers and the safety of vulnerable road users.

Operators will need to apply for a HGV Permit before October 2024, otherwise cost implications will arise, including a potential Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £550 per vehicle, as well as a possible additional charges for both the driver and vehicle owner although this is not yet confirmed. Although this is currently only relevant for Greater London, other major UK cities are also taking heed. Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) for example, are now also proactively taking action, recently collaborating with Birmingham City Council to launch a dangerous driving awareness campaign.

Christina Calderato, TfL’s director of transport strategy and policy, clarifies this new vision, explaining; “We’re determined to make roads safer for everyone and are committed to Vision Zero, the Mayor’s goal to eliminate death and serious injury from the transport network. It’s vital that all vehicles using London’s roads have safety at the forefront of their design and our world-first Direct Vision Standard has helped to significantly improve lorry safety, reducing fatal collisions where vision is a contributing factor by three quarters between 2018 and 2023. We will continue to take every possible measure to eradicate deaths and serious injuries from our roads and enhancing the safe systems for HGVs will help us do so.”

A three-star rating is dependent on how a vehicle has been built. For example, a lot of new vehicles have been designed to improve visibility, with deeper windows for increased vision and larger mirrors for a wider view of surroundings. If vehicles are rated below three stars, steps will need to be taken to increase the overall safety of the vehicle to mitigate the risk of pedestrian fatalities. By fitting a new Progressive Safe System, vehicles should then be equipped with camera monitoring systems (CMS), moving-off information systems (MOIS), blind-spot information systems (BSIS), and visual and audio warnings all vital elements to improving indirect vision.

In comparison to the DVS’ older system, which detects any object next to vehicles, the new Progressive Safe System uses artificial intelligence (AI), enabling the technology to accurately recognise vulnerable road users only.

Driving around London is often fast-paced and overwhelming, therefore it’s essential that distractions are minimal. As AI technology only detects what it needs to such as pedestrians and cyclists drivers will receive less visual and audio alerts, enabling them to focus on safe driving.

Vehicles travelling through London will now be required to have front of vehicle detection, also known as a moving-off information system (MOIS), as well as a blind spot information system (BSIS) to pick up the whole length of the left side of the vehicle to detect pedestrians before left hand turns. This is also required for European vehicles travelling into the UK, even though their driving wheels sit on the left side of the vehicle. Audio warnings are also needed to warn vulnerable road users of intended manoeuvres.

These systems are not quick to put into place they can take up to a couple of hours per vehicle to install so fleet operators must prioritise getting their solutions installed sooner rather than later. Taking a proactive approach can ensure operators avoid the operational disruption of all vehicles being simultaneously out of action during installation.

Paul Lawrence

As well as enhancing road safety, fleets can look to upgrade their hardware to incorporate a mobile digital video recorder (MDVR), allowing fleet managers to store and download footage to support insurance purposes, asset tracking and driver behaviour training. Operators also have the option to install additional cameras around their vehicles, including reversing and right-side cameras to work as a driver’s aid for safer city driving and slow-speed manoeuvring events.

Determining how much HGV drivers can see directly through their windows signifies the level of risk to vulnerable road users, such as people walking and cycling near the vehicle. However, modern telematics innovations are now also taking a step to enhance driver vision, acting as an additional pair of eyes in hard-to-see places. Whilst the introduction of the new Driver Vision Standards in London might seem like a daunting prospect, safer driving practices and new technology will not only mitigate pedestrian fatalities, but also improve driver safety and the overall quality of services.

For more information, visit AddSecure’s DVS guidelines.

The author is Paul Lawrence, managing director of AddSecure UK, North America and Australia.

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