Transport for London (TfL) has hailed “a world-first for lorry safety” as its Direct Vision Standard (DVS) lorry safety scheme today comes into full round-the-clock operation on all streets in the capital, having been postponed from its planned implementation last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 90,000 permits have been issued so far under the scheme, which is aimed at removing the most dangerous lorries from the roads and encouraging operators to adhere to the highest levels of safety and forms part of the Mayor’s Vision Zero strategy.
Under the scheme, HGVs of 12 tonnes and above are assigned a rating of between 0 and 5 stars, depending on how much the driver can see from the cab, as this video explains.
Operators of vehicles rated with 0 stars were required to be fitted with a range of safety features, as follows, with more than 30,000 now made safer as a result of the DVS.
cameras covering blind spots linked to a video display in the cab
an audible warning when turning left
motion sensors covering the sides of the lorry at low speeds
a prominent warning on the back of their vehicle.
TfL points out that already, a number of fleet operators and major infrastructure projects such as Tideway, have made significant investment to comply with a 5-star rating, with 3,000 such vehicles so far securing it.
Operators of vehicles without a valid permit will be subject to a penalty charge notice of £550, and from 2024 only ones rated 3 stars and above will be allowed on London’s streets.
According to TfL, while large lorries only accounted for 3 per cent of total miles driven in the city from 2018-20, during that period they were involved in 41 per cent of cyclist fatalities and 19 per cent of crashes in which a pedestrian was killed.
Today also sees the implementation of a stricter Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standard, under which heavy vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches and specialist vehicles have to meet Euro VI (NOx and PM) emissions standards or pay a daily charge to drive within the Greater London area.
TfL says that despite the pandemic, compliance with the existing Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards increased during 2020 despite the pandemic, underlining the effectiveness of such schemes in improving air quality.
London’s walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, said: “I’m really proud that London is leading the way and our world-first Direct Vision Standard is now in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week across all the roads in our city.
“This will save lives and improve road safety from day one by reducing lethal HGV blindspots, with more than 30,000 lorries fitted with vehicle safety measures ahead of enforcement beginning.
“More Londoners are walking and cycling than ever before and by taking this bold action we are doing all we can to protect them.”
He added: “It is a major step forward in the Mayor’s Vision Zero plan to eradicate all deaths and injuries from our roads, and is also set to transform road safety across Europe in the coming years.”
Christina Calderato, Head of Transport Planning at TfL, commented: “We know that the Direct Vision Standard will protect all Londoners who walk and cycle by ensuring that the most dangerous vehicles on our streets have effective safety measures. This will prevent needless death and injury on our roads - there will be people alive by the end of this year who wouldn’t have been if we hadn’t taken this bold and necessary action.
“We are immensely proud that our Direct Vision Standard – a world-first for lorry safety – will not only save lives in London, but in the UK and all over Europe as operators upgrade their entire fleets, sometimes upgrading hundreds of vehicles. This vital step is core to our Vision Zero plan to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on London’s roads.”
The implementation of the DVS has been welcomed by road safety campaigners, with Victoria Lebrec, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Communications at RoadPeace, saying: “In 2014 a driver behind the wheel of a lorry failed to see me whilst I was cycling, and crushed me.
“I lost my leg as a result of the crash, and have been left permanently disabled. The Direct Vision Standard will prevent crashes like mine. Transport for London should be commended for introducing the scheme, which will save lives and prevent serious injury.
“I urge operators to go beyond the minimum star rating standard required now, and ensure their vehicles have as much direct vision as possible.”
Due to the challenges the logistics sector has faced due to the COVID-19 crisis, TfL has created an “allow list” of vehicles booked in to have safe systems fitted for operators that applied prior to the deadline, meaning they will not be subject to fixed penalty notices during the initial 90 days that the scheme is in operation.
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