New HGV safety rules in London from 2024

Transport for London (TfL) has announced that starting from October 2024, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) weighing over 12 tonnes will need to meet certain safety requirements to operate in Greater London.

The decision was made by the London Councils Transport and Environment Committee, paving the way for changes to the capital’s HGV safety permit scheme based on the Direct Vision Standard (DVS).

Under the new regulations, HGVs over 12 tonnes must either have a minimum three-star DVS rating or be equipped with the Progressive Safe System (PSS), a set of updated safety features. TfL has allowed a three-month grace period from the implementation date for operators to comply with the new requirements. The London Councils committee will review the situation in June 2024 to determine if any extensions are necessary.

Mayor Philip Glanville, London Councils’ executive lead for climate change, transport, and environment, emphasized the commitment to prioritize the safety of road users in London. He stated that ongoing collaboration with TfL and the haulage industry is essential to ensure the well-being of the city’s residents. Glanville also highlighted the collective dedication of London boroughs to Vision Zero, aiming for safer roads and ultimately eliminating fatalities in the capital.

The HGV safety permit scheme, introduced in 2019, requires all operators of HGVs weighing over 12 tonnes to obtain a free safety permit regardless of their DVS star rating. The DVS star rating indicates how much the driver can directly see through the vehicle’s cab windows in areas where collisions are likely to occur.

Statistics demonstrate the positive impact of the HGV safety permit scheme, with fatal collisions related to vision reduced by half between 2018 and 2021, and a continued decrease from 2021 to 2023. TfL attributes these improvements to the scheme’s effectiveness in reducing road hazards and aligning with the Mayor’s Vision Zero goal.

Since its inception, the scheme has issued over 253,745 safety permits, including nearly 6,000 vehicles with a five-star rating indicating excellent direct vision. Additionally, more than 151,000 zero-star HGVs have been fitted with safety systems.

The current safety measures, initially developed in 2018, have undergone a review by TfL to incorporate advancements in available equipment and technologies. This updated system, known as the Progressive Safe System, reflects the market’s latest developments.

TfL conducted a consultation earlier this year, which received 55% support for the DVS principles, the HGV safety permit scheme, and the Progressive Safe System. Changes resulting from the consultation include updated guidance on the use of mirrors and mirror-replacement Camera Monitoring Systems (CMS), requiring CMS to eliminate blind spots on the passenger side, installation of Moving Off Information Systems (MOIS) to prevent frontal blind spot collisions during vehicle movement, and fitting audio warnings to all vehicles to indicate intended maneuvers.

TfL has decided to modify the proposal to mandate sensors for articulated vehicle trailers, making it a recommendation rather than a requirement. TfL will closely monitor industry readiness to implement the PSS measures before the October 2024 launch and, in consultation with London Councils, assess in June 2024 whether an extension to the grace period is necessary.

To be eligible, operators of existing zero-star, one-star, and two-star rated vehicles must register their vehicles with TfL and provide evidence of an appointment with fitters to install the PSS equipment before January 31, 2025. However, this arrangement does not apply to operators applying for new vehicle Safety Permits after October 28, 2024.

In addition to the regulatory changes, TfL plans to introduce user experience improvements, including a tool for operators to check their vehicles’ permits, optimizing the HGV safety permit application process.

Christina Calderato, TfL’s director of transport strategy and policy, expressed the organization’s determination to enhance road safety and achieve the Mayor’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating death and serious injury from the transport network. Calderato highlighted the importance of prioritizing safety in all vehicles using London’s roads and emphasized the significant improvement in lorry safety, with fatal collisions related to vision decreasing by three-quarters between 2018 and 2023 due to the Direct Vision Standard.

TfL remains committed to implementing measures that will continue to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads. Enhancing the safe systems for HGVs is seen as a crucial step in achieving this objective.

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