Direct Vision Standard Could Catch Out Unwary Road Haulage Operators Coming Into London

Lorry Drivers Must Watch Out for Visibility Regulations UK – Whether or not he leaves office in May 2020 having completed the mandatory period of service, or survives like his only pair of predecessors in the job, to manage two terms of four years, London Mayor Sadiq Khan will likely be best remembered for his impact on transport in the city. Public fares aside, the Mayor’s extension of predecessor Boris Johnson’s dabble with transport policies means Khan’s legacy will probably centre on his effect on vehicle emissions and accident prevention.

Much criticised by the road haulage community, there is however a grudging acceptance that some of the measures being introduced are necessary to reduce the death and injury/sickness toll caused by vehicles in the capital. We have moved from the Congestion Charge to the Toxic Tax and these measures will extend next year to a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) position which will shortly effectively ban diesel powered lorries from the capital unless they are of the very latest marque.

Whilst the mandatory LEZ covers the whole of Greater London and currently means that lorries of Euro IV standard and later can use the Zone, as from 26 October 2020 only Euro VI standards are acceptable, with penalties of between GBP100 and GBP300 for those who transgress. Whilst these rules are gradually being absorbed by hauliers the Vision Standards which are to be imposed are often a little less understood. On that same October day next year all HGVs over 12 tonnes entering and operating in Greater London will need to hold a safety permit showing the valid Direct Vision Standard star rating.

Problem is that, as of the time of writing, there is no single list of whether or not a truck complies, and if it does what star rating it is entitled to. The Tfl advice page on the subject does however give contact details for many manufacturers who will advise what star rating they judge to belong to any particular model of their trucks. A chassis number will be required to identify the rating for non-new vehicles.

The permits will be issued by Transport for London (TfL) with trucks scoring from 1 to 5 dependant on how they are judged to perform. Safety measures were to include side vision panels, something hauliers railed at as this is a matter to be sorted at the design stage of a vehicle, not performance judged as a political afterthought, and something the Mayor had already moved the goalposts on, much to the chagrin of freight operators. Now it seems, although there has still not been a guaranteed definitive final list, the new standards are pretty much sorted out and the requirements are as follows.

Class V and class VI mirrors, a side view camera system plus an audible alert linked to sensors on both the front and nearside of the truck. The vision panels were mandatory until it seems a report from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and Centre Europeen d’Etudes de Securite et d’Analyse des Risques (CEESAR) and the European Automobile Manufacturers Association(ACEA) pointed out certain facts. The report, published in September 2018, found detection (and also automatic emergency braking) measures are more effective than better visibility points.

This is because with direct vision a driver has to actually look away to establish the presence of a vulnerable road user whereas a system of cameras and sensors allow the driver to receive important information from several points simultaneously, principally advising him/her of key areas of concern. It seems that penalties for failing to operate in a proper manner in the City are likely to be punitive. Without a permit the fine is proposed at GBP550 per offence with the driver also receiving a personal penalty set at GBP150.

This however is not the end of things. As we have witnessed with the LEZ and ULEZ regulations in the past, the future bodes, in terms of cost, worse is to come. Whilst having a DVS permit is mandatory as from next year there is a review of standards scheduled for 2024 when it is anticipated 1 and 2 star vehicles will get their marching orders.

There will however be a review of the latest technology designed specifically to be retrofitted to older trucks which can bring them up to the latest standard.

This of course is unlikely to come cheap for the operator.

Direct Vision Standard Could Catch Out Unwary Road Haulage Operators Coming Into London

Direct Vision Standard Could Catch Out Unwary Road Haulage Operators Coming Into London

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