Transport for London is developing a Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for larger HGVs (category N3 vehicles over 12 tonnes) operating in London to be introduced by the end of the current Mayoral term in 2020.
In 2016, shortly after taking office, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced plans to introduce a Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for larger HGVs operating in London by the end of the current Mayoral term in 2020. N3 (goods vehicles over 12 tonnes) are being assessed on the amount of direct vision and given a star rating. Zero-star rated vehicles would be banned from the Capital’s roads from 2020 and those not meeting at least three stars will be affected from 2024.
How many vehicles will be affected?
Initial estimates from Transport for London (TfL) suggest that 50-60 per cent of N3 vehicles would not meet the one-star DVS rating. For HGVs used in the construction sector and in particular N3G off-road tippers, approximately three-quarters of vehicles are zero-star rated.
What do I do if my vehicle doesn’t meet the one-star rating?
TfL is proposing that all HGVs over 12 tonnes would require a safety permit to enter or operate in London. HGVs with a DVS rating of one-star and above would automatically be granted a permit. HGVs with zero-star ratings would be granted a permit if they meet specific measures in a 'safe system.' The 'safe system' will build on best practice from existing, industry-recognised schemes. Measures could include:
- Sensors and other indirect vision devices
- Audible or visual warning around the vehicle
- Physical protection to deflect vulnerable road users away from the vehicle
- Driver safety training
What will happen in the next phase of the scheme?
Phase two of the scheme in 2024 would require HGVs rated two-star and below, to meet the requirements of a 'progressive safe system'. It is anticipated that these requirements will be more stringent than those from phase one to account for future developments in technology and safety measures, and to give the industry additional time to prepare for these changes. The progressive system will be subject to further consultation at an appropriate point before 2024.
FTA’s position is that standards for HGVs should be set at a national or international level as manufacturers design vehicles for a European market, not by individual cities. This could lead to London becoming a niche market for the manufacturers, increasing the costs of new vehicles. There must be a clear evidence base for new standards, otherwise we cannot be sure that the additional investment required will actually lead to improved safety. Whilst increasing direct vision has a role to play, it not the most effective way of addressing safety issues and technical developments will mitigate the requirement for improved direct vision. Often cameras and mirrors will give drivers a view that no amount of direct vision will be able to replace. As technology advances, these systems will be become even more sophisticated and the benefits greater.
Whilst the safe system proposal is a welcome move away from the narrow focus on direct vision, it has the potential to make the regulatory environment in London even more complex. If driver safety training is included as a mandatory element of the scheme, there are practical issues about how and where the training will be delivered, in particular for drivers who rarely visit London or for non-UK based fleets. It is also undecided how the standard will be assessed and a permit granted. FTA is pressing for self-certification (the same system used for Operator Licensing) to minimise bureaucracy and cost.
What is FTA doing?
FTA has raised concerns of the volume of vehicles that would be affected with Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross and also written to Mike Brown, Commissioner of Transport for London outlining our concerns. We continue to work with the TfL team developing the standard and the scheme and with City Hall to ensure that it results in a rounded and workable outcome that recognises the investment that many companies have already made in additional safety equipment.
Find out more
FTA response to Direct Vision Standard Consultation
Contact Natalie Chapman, Head of South of England and Urban Policy at FTA