London to impose direct vision standard for HGVs entering the capital

London is to introduce the world’s first direct vision standard for HGVs, which will see the most ‘dangerous lorries’ banned from entering the capital by 2020.

Under plans announced today, mayor Sadiq Khan wants to create a star rating system from 0 to 5 to rate HGVs based on the level of direct vision the driver has from the cab.

Lorries will be rated ranging from ‘best in class’ (those using features like low-entry and remodelled cabs to drastically reduce blind spots), to ‘not suitable for urban environment’ (those construction vehicles designed for off-road use with drivers high up in the cab making blind spots nearly three times larger).

It is proposed that those lorries with a zero star rating would be banned from London by 2020 and by 2024, only those achieving three stars or above would be permitted entry.

A proposed enforcement timetable is to be launched right away, followed shortly by a consultation process, which the mayor said will help with giving operators enough lead time to prepare for the ban.

Khan said: “Our ground-breaking Direct Vision Standard will be the first of its kind in the world, directly addressing the issue of lethal driver blind-spots. I’m also proud that TfL will lead by example and will not use any zero-star lorries in its supply chain from the new financial year.”

He added: “By continuing to work closely with industry, using TfL and public sector procurement and announcing our plans now, I’m confident that many of our lorries will now be upgraded well before the ban comes into place, and the benefits of a new era of  modernised and safer HGVs felt by all road users across London.’”

The mayor justified his decision with the claim that HGVs were involved in 22.5% of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist fatalities on London’s roads in 2014 and 2015, despite only making 4% of total road miles driven.

The restriction of drivers’ field of direct vision by vehicle design has been proven to have contributed to many of these fatalities, the mayor’s office said.

It is estimated that by 2020, only 8% of HGVs in London will be zero star-rated as opposed to 18% today.

There are currently around 35,000 of the zero star-rated ‘off-road’ HGVs currently operating on London’s roads, and they were involved in around 70% of cyclist fatalities involving lorries in the last three years.

TfL and the Greater London Authority group will adopt the new standard in all future contracts from the new financial year, and also work with developers and councils to encourage them to do the same.

Leon Daniels, MD of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “Lorries designed in the 1970s and for use in a quarry have no place on the streets of a 21st century city.

“Our Direct Vision Standard has been developed using extensive technical research and builds on the success of working in partnership with both vehicle operators and manufacturers through Clocs.”

TfL said it has discussed the draft direct vision standard with a number of industry bodies that have “welcomed a clear direction on HGV safety”.

Today’s proposals supersede plans that previous mayor Boris Johnson hoped to introduce in London to make additional low level passenger door window panels mandatory. TfL said subsequent research has shown that the plans would have had “little impact on cyclist safety and no impact on pedestrian safety.”