The HGV Safety Permit Scheme: An expert opinion from Backwatch Safety Products

With twenty years in the industry, protecting vulnerable road users has always been part and parcel of our DNA at Backwatch Safety Products. With the proposed heavy goods vehicle safety permit scheme as part of London’s Direct Vision Standard currently making headlines, it is certain to be a hot topic for many HGV operators.

Currently under discussion, the permit would be required for all HGVs over 12 tonnes used in the Capital from 2020. Requirements for the permits may include the use of additional vehicle safety equipment such as proximity sensors and visual warning devices as well as enhanced driver training. The ultimate aim of the Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Vision Zero approach is to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from London’s roads by 2040.

Complying with these proposed regulations would undoubtedly add to the workload and responsibilities of Transport Managers and Health and Safety representatives – so how can we help?
Backwatch provide a complete range of safety equipment making us a one stop shop for commercial vehicle safety.

Backwatch combined camera and sensor system undergoing evaluation by Crossrail

We pride ourselves on supplying and fitting superior product that goes far beyond simply ticking boxes for compliance. We provide a personalised solution with personalised service. We partner with our customers to determine exactly what it is they need to protect themselves and others on the road. Our dedicated technical support line is just one way we strive to exceed the expectations of our customers.

At Backwatch, all customers are important to us irrespective of their size. We deliver a responsive service with a network of experienced fitment teams across the UK, with onsite fitment to fit your business needs. There is no extra charge for weekend or evening installs.

Likely to be a requirement of the Mayor’s permit scheme are vehicle proximity sensors. These are already a staple piece of equipment in many modern fleets. With lorries involved in all but one death involving cyclists in London in 2015, cyclist safety is a main focus for both TfL and The Mayor in their campaign to reduce danger on the capitals roads.

Our range of own manufacture sensors includes the Cycle Watch that gives the driver both audible and visual alerts from a compact unit in the cab when an obstruction is detected by externally fitted sensors. Particularly helpful when turning, the Cycle Watch is self diagnostic, independently tested and FORS, Crossrail, Clocs and TfL compliant. Our Sales team are always happy to talk through your individual needs and help you to meet requirements.

Warning Alarms add additional safety for other road users and peace of mind for drivers. Our range includes our Advanced Alarm. Available in both left turn and right turn as well as reversing, this system also boasts flashing amber lights to ensure the message is conveyed even if it cannot be heard. Bespoke alarms are no problem either; we can supply alarms tailor made with companies’ own messages and have recently begun work with a customer who required a combined left and right turn alarm.

Backwatch camera systems record collisions to prove or disprove claims of wrongdoing

When accidents or incidents do happen, it is not always easy to determine who was at fault. The implications can be that huge amounts of time and money are required to gather evidence in your defence, not to mention the stress this can result in. The use of recording equipment has saved many of our customers from having this issue.

With an ever-growing range of cameras and recording systems from DashCams to Solid State Drive DVR units and Live View remote access, as well as a wide variety of light bars and vehicle trackers, we really do have something for everyone. Many insurance companies are now able to offer discounted premiums to customers with video recording capabilities.

AN EXPERT OPINION: Andrew Davies has been Sales Director at Backwatch Safety Products for nine years

Anything that can be done to reduce the potential for an accident has got to be a good thing.

“Maximising ‘direct vision’ for HGVs has some precedence in the industry; certain older lorries, such as Leyland Roadrunners and Ford Cargo, had glass panels. These were a safety and security risk; they were frequently obscured as the passenger footwell was often used to store equipment. In addition, with a glass panel in the lower door, the window cannot be opened. Drivers have commented that this does sometimes cause a safety issue; as they cannot lower the window, they sometimes cannot hear the banksman when they are reversing at night.

Nowadays, things are of course much different with the advent of technology. Anything that can be done to reduce the potential for an accident has got to be a good thing. However, an issue with TfL’s Direct Vision Standard is that it does not apply across a wide enough area geographically; it applies only to the Capital, not across the UK or Europe. Thus, practically it may be difficult to convince all manufacturers to change their designs to fit London’s direct vision specification, especially when they are already a myriad of other accreditations; Crossrail, Work Related Road Risk, FORS Silver and Gold etc.

The star rating system is a good idea, particularly that TfL recognise the safety benefits that ancillary devices provide. Of course, road safety technology helps drivers to avoid coming into contact with vulnerable road users. But on top of that, road traffic accidents are not always the operator’s fault, but they often take the lion’s share of the blame. Spurious but successful claims can lead to higher insurance premiums and mass negative publicity; if you have camera systems recording, then you have irrefutable evidence to defend yourself against such claims.
Backwatch’s high definition camera systems can provide this defence. These, combined with a tracking unit, can give you the full trajectory of the incident and prior behaviour of the driver. Warning and sensing systems to warn other road users of your manoeuvres can also be instrumental.

Ideally, there should to be consistency across the country, with a standard that all operators should look to meet. Clarity should also be given to operators on the exact measures that must be incorporated within a vehicle to make it compliant. However, operators should not view this a tick box exercise but as a set of conditions that cumulatively create a culture of road safety.”

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