Interim star rating for Direct Vision Standard released as HGV safety standard proposal emerges

cycling in London

TfL has released interim tables showing the first batch of HGVs to be star-rated under the Direct Vision Standard (DVS), while seemingly also softening the impact of the scheme on hauliers.

Revealed last year, the standard is seeking to introduce a rating system running from zero to five based on the level of direct vision a driver has from their cab.

Trucks with the lowest, zero rating would have been banned from London by 2020, with only those achieving three stars or above permitted entry from 2024.

It had been feared that as many as half of trucks travelling into London could be banned from the later date.

However, the update, published late last week after calls for more information, contains a new proposal to develop an HGV safety standard, which would recognise equipment such as cameras and audible warning devices fitted to trucks.

If approved, the proposal would see all HGVs over 12-tonnes requiring a permit to enter London from 2020.

Those with a DVS rating of one star and above would then automatically be granted a permit, while those trucks rated as zero would have to have sensors, visual warnings and undertake ‘comprehensive’ driver training before a permit is granted.

TfL added that the safety permit scheme would “evolve over time, taking into account advances in technology”.

From 2024 only those rated three stars and above, or which have an advanced safety system, would be allowed on London’s streets. The details of the advanced safety system will be included in an autumn consultation.

There has previously been no dispensation for in-direct aids despite hauliers having spent thousands of pounds on them in recent years to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety.

Trade associations gave the latest plan a cautious welcome but said more detail around star ratings was still required.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “This only highlights the scale of the issue and reaffirms what we’ve been saying for some time, that the vast proportion of existing HGVs will not meet their currently proposed standards.

“It is positive that we now have an opportunity to work with TfL and the industry to find an effective solution to improve road safety in a balanced way and to have recognition that the issue is complex and will require a lot more work to ensure that the best possible road safety benefits are obtained.”

Burnett added that the RHA would be pushing for reassurance from TfL that any charges for the new permit scheme would cover its administration only, and not amount to a “tax on operators”.

SMMT director of communications Tamzen Isacsson said: “It’s important that the scheme recognises the role technology, including in-cab cameras and vehicle sensors, plays in improving road safety, alongside regulations governing visibility in HGV cabs.

“However, we want to see policies which encourage the uptake of the latest and safest low emission vehicles, so clarity is urgently needed on what the final ‘star rating’ system will look like.”

Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the Mineral Products Association (MPA), said: “MPA members, our construction colleagues and TfL have made great progress in improving safety awareness and taking action through the CLOCS initiative.

“We support the mayor’s drive to improve the direct vision of HGVs and look forward to engaging positively in the consultation and implementation processes.”