Can You Ensure Your HGVs Have Direct Vision?

By: Martyn Fletcher

The way HGVs move around London is about to change. We are not talking about some small change here, the change is going to massive and so far-reaching that it could result in many HGVs being banned from driving in London. The change is a consequence of the recently passed ‘direct vision rules’ that had previously been under huge debate and deliberation. So what does this new change mean for you?

What Is the Direct Vision Standard?

The DVS or Direct Vision Standard is a special programme that is led by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The programme’s main objective is to come up with regulations specifically targeted at HGVs. The baseline concept is that HGVs should be awarded a star rating (from 0 to 5), that is basically a score of a driver’s visibility of the road and the surrounding environment. The driver should be able to see everything through their car windows and not through mirrors and cameras. If your HGV has a very low score, it will not be allowed on the roads. This is after results from the extensive research showed that HGVs took part in at least 20% of pedestrian accidents and over 70% of cyclist accidents in the streets of London. This is despite HGVs constituting only 4% of road mileage in the city of London. Further research then uncovered that HGV blind spots contributed a lot to collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists, and because of this, the Direct Vision Standard was developed to reduce the number of accidents caused by HGVs on London roads and pavements.

How Will the Ratings Be Decided?

The rating system will function by evaluating a driver’s visibility of the area around them, particularly, an area that poses a higher risk to other road users like cyclists and pedestrians. The area of higher risk has established after numerous evaluations and compilation of collision data. This ‘area of higher risk’ is divided into 4 distinct parts – each part is an area that has been identified as a collision hotspot or is an area where a driver needs to pay close attention to in order to avoid collisions. These 4 different parts carry the most weight when the star rating is being calculated.

A fixed technical measurement is employed to come up with the total volume of the area of higher risk that is in the driver’s visibility, and each HGV is given a score. The score is the basis for the star rating and can increase with improvements in the driver’s visibility. So, the higher a driver’s rating, the better their visibility of the area of higher risk. 5 stars are awarded to the best, these are basically HGVs with the best visibility of the surrounding area with features such as re-modelled cabs and low entry.

When Will This All Start?

Even if there was a whole year of delays and waiting, the Direct Vision Standard is not going to be enforced immediately. London Transport Body has given a grace period to all HGVs to allow them to be assessed and be awarded a star rating. HGV companies are also meant to use this grace period to replace the current vehicles with higher rated models. HGVs with a rating of 3 stars or below will not be allowed on the roads starting from the year 2024. The only vehicles that will be exempted from following this rule are those that do not have a high star rating but have comprehensive safety measures put in place. The objective for enforcing these strict rules is to see the number of road accidents in London decrease this making London streets much safer for all. Dave Regan from Easyashgv.co.uk  believes that the new standard will be a step in the right direction since road accidents are mostly caused by lack of vision.  The direction vision standard should help to reduce the number of fatalities caused by these accidents by getting HGVs that cannot see small cars, cyclists, and pedestrians off the road.

Obviously, these new changes mean that you have to get your HGV assessed and rated. With these new rules, haulage companies and manufacturers will be under enormous pressure to make their HGVs as safe as possible. If they fail to do this, they risk being beaten by their competitors who will comply with the new laws. More changes are expected to be introduced under this programme, including an interim star rating system and special permits for HGVs in London.