Following closely after the end of the Brexit transition period at midnight on New Year’s Eve’, for which logistics and road transport operators will have already made considerable compliance changes, various organisations will have an additional set of new measures to adhere to in the form of the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and its accompanying HGV Safety Permit, which have fortunately been postponed
Intended to make the area’s roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians who are obviously relatively more vulnerable, the Direct Vision Standard will involve OEM truck manufacturers from the likes of DAF, Mercedes, Scania and Volvo providing a star rating of between one and five, in ascending order of merit, to communicate how well the driver is able to see directly out of the cab’s front and side windows and, conversely, how high or low the risk the vehicle poses to vulnerable road users. While the initial mandatory attainment of one star by March 2021 might be perceived as too soft, 12-tonne trucks and heavier will need to score three stars or more by 2024 under the Direct Vision Standard.
Tractors of 12t and above without a permit of approval from TfL won’t be permitted to enter within the DVS’ M25 enforcement zone, which will operate 24/7. The Direct Vision Standard HGV Permit being obtainable free of charge is certainly to be welcomed.
Zero-scoring HGVs will be banned from London and the south’s DVS zone and will need to be fitted with the scheme’s ‘Safe System’3 package, which includes Class V and VI mirrors, sensors, driver alerts, cameras, audible warnings for manoeuvring, additional safety signage, and under-run protection fitted to the chassis’ sides. Drivers or fleet/transport managers will be required to upload two photos as proof of compliance with DVS through retrofitting.
Laudably, the Direct Vision Standard will be continuously assessed and enhanced, so from October 2024 trucks rated 3-star or poorer will need to work to TfL’s ‘Progressive Safe System’4, which will take into account emerging safety equipment and technologies such as radars, semi-autonomous systems and driver aids.
Improving cycle safety is a move to be embraced, as organisations like RoSPA5 have in recent years done much to highlight the dangers. Despite HGVs comprising just 4% of London’s traffic, they have been involved in around 20% of accidents in which cyclists have lost their lives, many where a truck and trailer have been turning left at a junction or have passed too close to a cyclist – the latter perhaps partly exacerbated by outdated road layouts, although this is another discussion in its own right. The DVS specifically targets improving truck and trailer blind spots and offers some leeway in that safety improvements can be achieved by mirrors and cameras or just by the former in the case of systems such as MirrorCam from Mercedes/Daimler, as seen on the Actros truck units Tiger Trailers’ customers Dextra Group and Wren Kitchens operate, for example.
British Gypsum6 is another particularly noteworthy Tiger Trailers customer when it comes to safety and the DVS, its fleet of several hundred lightweight curtainsiders mated to truck tractor units with minimum 3* Direct Vision Standard scores, while its rigids boast 5* DVS ratings, creating what it describes as the “safest UK fleet ‘on the road’”. BG’s Scania P450 tractor units and Scania L320 rigids feature a side direct vision panel in the passenger door, four CCTV cameras providing a 360-degree view, audible manoeuvring alarms, parking sensors, anti-roll-away technology, roof-mounted beacons, lane departure and cruise control technology plus a system that mitigates unplanned coupling.
International chemical and ingredients distributor, Univar Solutions, is also a fleet with an impressive safety focus, its curtainsider rigids fitted with NuVech Solutions’ excellent AirBar technology, a retractable device with a flexible membrane that inflates automatically under pressure, with bright LEDs enhancing visibility further to enhance safety for pedestrians, cyclists and others in the vicinity.
OEM truck manufacturers will be able to advise on the DVS star rating of existing vehicles if the chassis number and VIN is provided, and also on the safety score of new models.
While the DVS and accompanying HGV Permit only initially apply to fleets operating one or more vehicles over 12-tonnes and within the M25 area2, it’s perhaps inevitable that it or a similar safety standard will be rolled out across the UK eventually, and it’s important that transport managers don’t take their eyes off the ball due to Brexit.