Yes, you read that right, soon HGVs will be banned from driving London’s fair streets. Ok so maybe not all HGVs, and not really all that soon either. But the new Direct Vision Standard implemented by Transport For London is the start of a slope that will see a significant reduction in HGVs on London’s roads, along with (hopefully) a reduction I accidents. If you’re in the HGV industry, this one’s for you, because you need to know exactly what’s coming and what you can do about it.
What Is Direct Vision?
The Direct Vision Standard is the name given to the latest Transport for London scheme to improve the safety of London’s roads. It comes fully backed by the mayor of London, and is one of the few motoring regulations aimed specifically at HGVs in a single geographical area. But rather than tar all HGVs with the same brush, TFL had the idea to rate HGVs based on their safety level. We aren’t talking about fancy bells and whistles here – the rating systems of safety judges just one thing – how much a driver see directly out of his cab windows, without using any mirrors or cameras. You see, research showed that HGVs were involved in 20% of pedestrian fatalities in London, and 70% of cyclist fatalities too. When they looked into why, it became clear that there were certain blind spots and heightened risk areas around an HGV that made it difficult for the driver to see around them properly, making them unable to take action to avoid an accident.
How Does the Rating System Work?
According to this new rule, every HGV looking to drive in London will have to hold a 3 star rating or above, which means your HGV will need to undergo testing. There are a few things the tester will look for when determining the rating of your HGV:
Assessment of general visibility while sitting inside the cab
Specific assessment of visibility in 4 key risk areas (the 4 areas which, through detailed data analysis, have proven the greatest risk)
Measurement of collision data distance (the measurement based on how much of a person needs to be seen to allow the driver to take action to avoid the collision)
Defined technical measurements are taken, which are used to calculate the total volume of the weighted area of greatest risk that can be seen by the driver.
All of those factors are paired with a score, and when your total is added up, that score will correspond with a star rating. 5 is the highest, while 0 is the lowest. It’s estimated that most of the vehicles who will gain a 5 star rating will have features like low-entry or re-modelled cabs, which are specifically designed to increase visibility.
So When’s Implementation Day?
It would be very cruel of Transport for London to spring this on us right away, so they have very kindly given us a grace period to get ready. The regulation won’t take full effect until 2024. After that, any HGV with a rating of 3 stars or less will be banned from driving on London roads. There is only one exception to this rule. If your HGV has a lower than 3 star rating but is equipped with comprehensive safety systems, you may still be eligible to drive in London. So we have a 7-year window to ensure all of our vehicles are up to code.
Of course, this has caused a bit of flurry within the HGV community. Manufacturers are now under new pressures to produce HGV models with greater visibility to meet the standard and lower accident rates. While haulage companies are looking to either upgrade their fleets to high-visibility models or install new safety systems to secure a 3 star or higher rating. Companies that don’t risk losing out on business to firms that do take these steps, and so the question has become now if, but when. If you would like to find out more about the Driving Vision Standard or enquire about driving jobs in London, get in touch with us today.