What it means and how you can prepare for its introduction in October 2020

Shortly after taking office in 2016, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to introduce a Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for larger HGVs operating in London at the end of the current Mayoral term.

The Mayor has adopted Vision Zero for road danger in London, aiming for all deaths and serious injuries from road collisions to be eliminated from London’s streets by 2041. Vision Zero means ensuring the street environment incorporates safe speeds, safe behaviours, safe street design and safe vehicles to target road danger at its source.

Direct Vision Standard is the first scheme of its kind and was created to improve the safety of all road users, particularly vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. In basic terms, the DVS assesses and rates how much a driver can see directly from their HGV cab in relation to other road users.

From 26 October 2020, all category N3 vehicles will be given a star rating dictated by the DVS. Vehicles scoring zero stars will be banned from London’s roads while those not meeting at least three will be affected from 2024. Transport for London (TfL) are liaising with vehicle manufacturers to assign star ratings but initial estimates from TfL suggest that 50-60% of N3 vehicles would not currently meet the one-star rating. For HGVs used in the construction sector and in particular N3G off-road tippers, approximately three quarters of vehicles are zero-star rated.

TfL has decided that each N3 vehicle will require a Safety Permit to enter the Greater London Boundary 24/7, which will be dictated by the vehicle’s star rating. Permits for vehicles are free of charge and available now despite not coming into play for another 12 months. Vehicles recognised with three stars or above are eligible for a 10-year permit while those rated zero, one or two stars will only be covered until 2024.  Any vehicle with a rating of one star or above will automatically be granted a permit while those with a zero-star rating will be permitted subject to meeting specific measures.

These specific measures, called the Safe System, are a series of vehicle safety measures designed to reduce the risks HGVs present to cyclists and pedestrians. The core Safety System proposals include blind spot elimination and minimisation such as a fully operational camera monitoring system and Class V and VI mirrors; warnings of intended manoeuvres – for example an audible left-turn warning – and minimising physical impact of a hazard like side-underrun protection. Driver training is highly recommended but not mandated.

From 26 October 2024 however the restrictions will become tighter, as HGVs rated below three stars will be banned from the capital unless they adhere to the Progressive Safety System. In 2022, the existing Safe System will be reviewed to create the Progressive Safe System, and any additional technology or safety equipment that is not currently available will be considered. But for it to be added it must be industry recognised and readily available on the market.

The permit application process opened on 28 October and is simple and stress-free. First, the vehicle manufacturer should be contact and supplied the VIN number of the vehicle in question, where the manufacturer can advise the star rating of the vehicle. If the vehicle is rated zero stars, additional safety equipment will need to be added, otherwise the application process can begin online.

When ready to apply, visit www.tfl.gov.uk/direct-vision-permit and enter the vehicle or vehicle’s details. Enter operator and contact details to finalise the application and a permit will be granted. If the vehicle is zero stars, two photos will need to be submitted of the Safe System equipment that’s been installed before a permit application will be accepted. The process is of utmost importance as any operates caught to be non-compliant will face a £550 fine.

Contact details for each VM needed for the permit application can be found here:

Manufacturer Phone Email/online form
DAF 01844 261111 ukwvta@daftrucks.com
Dennis Eagle www.dennis-eagle.co.uk/USV
MAN 01793 448000 salesengineering@man.eu
Renault 01926 401777 DVS@renault-trucks.com
Scania 01908 210210 product.engineeringuk@scania.com
Volvo 01926 401777 DVS@volvo.com
Mercedes-Benz mbtrucks.product@daimler.com
Iveco productengineering@iveco.com

Vehicle safety has always been critical but is now essential for any HGV drivers and fleets that operate in the Greater London area. Thankfully several companies are already ahead of the curve and are producing safety equipment and devices that will boost the star rating of any vehicle.

Flick through the following pages to see what is on offer. 

For more information: www.tfl.gov.uk