If you operate HGVs within the M25 you will need a DVS permit from March 2021, or you will get a £550 fine every time a vehicle enters the area.
The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) is a new law brought in to reduce the thousands of injuries caused in London every year by HGVs. Lorries will be banned from Greater London if they have blind spots where the driver cannot see cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
HGV owners must get a permit for each HGV from the Transport for London (TFL) website proving their vehicle has the necessary vision equipment. For hundreds of HGV owners, this will mean adding ‘Safe System’ upgrades which include cameras, sensors and mirrors to improve vision from the cab.
All HGVs with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 12 tonnes or more, in other words, N3 category vehicles must have a DVS permit. This includes HGVs registered abroad. It does not apply to buses or coaches, or any vehicle below 12 tonnes.
HGVs will need a DVS permit to drive on any road in Greater London. This means all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, which is much larger than the London congestion charging zone.
This is slightly smaller than the area within the M25, but it does include every A-road leading into London from the M25
You can apply for your permits already. The Direct Vision Standard will be enforced from March 2021 onwards.
If COVID-19 creates administrative delays, a slightly postponed enforcement date will be published on the Transport for London website.
How will the law be enforced?
Your permit will be an electronic record, and you will be given a permit reference number.
Your HGV will be checked automatically as it passes through traffic cameras. Each time a vehicle without a permit enters Greater London, the owner will be fined £550.
The record of traffic accidents in London is shocking. Over 26,000 people were injured in 2018, reports Transport for London, and 112 people were killed. The figures have been about the same for the last 20 years.
Big lorries are at the centre of this tragedy. HGVs caused 63% of cyclist deaths and 25% of pedestrian deaths between 2015 and 2017, reports the Mayor of London’s official website. This is a shameful safety record when you consider HGVs account for just 4% of total miles driven in London.
When Boris Johnson was Mayor of London and commuted to work by bike, he vowed to do something about it. Sadiq Khan, London’s current mayor, has continued his project and created the Vision Zero plan, which aims to bring road deaths and serious injuries in London down to zero by 2041.
If you own any HGV that enters Greater London, you must go through these three steps:
All HGVs have been given a star rating by Transport for London (TFL), based on objective measurements of how much a driver can see from the cab. The highest rating is 5 stars and the lowest is zero stars.
How to find out a vehicle’s star rating
You can check your HGV’s star rating by entering its license plate into the TFL website.
If TFL does not have your vehicle on record, you will have to get a certificate from the manufacturer and send it to TFL. You send the manufacturer your chassis number (VIN), get the star rating certificate from them, and then upload it to the TFL website using the ‘make an enquiry’ form.
Do you need to upgrade your HGV?
Any HGV rated 1 to 5 stars is currently acceptable and will be given a permit.
If your HGV scores 0 stars you will need to add ‘Safe System’ vision equipment. Zero stars means the driver seated in the cab has very limited direct vision to his left. He cannot see children, people on bicycles or motorbikes, or even adult females who are within 4.5 metres of his vehicle.
Transport for London strongly advises that you upgrade any vehicle with 1 or 2 stars as well. In 2024, the rules are going to become tougher and permits for HGVs with less than 3 stars will expire. At this point you will need to make further upgrades and apply for a new permit.
Permits for vehicles with 3 stars or more will last 10 years.
To upgrade your zero star HGV to meet the new law, you MUST make ALL of the additions described below. Together, they are called the ‘Safe System’.
A. Improve driver vision around the vehicle
Fit mirrors to the front and nearside
You must fit a class V mirror to the nearside of the HGV and a class VI mirror to the front of the vehicle.
You can choose a vehicle camera monitoring system instead of mirrors, so long as the camera image quality is high. The monitors in the cab must be positioned so the driver can check them without taking his eyes off other important views for too long while manoeuvring.
Whether you choose mirrors or vehicle cameras, they must comply with UNECE regulation 46.
Fit a camera monitoring system to the nearside of the vehicle
A fully operational camera monitoring system must be fitted to the nearside of the vehicle. There are no exceptions to this rule: all vehicle types must be fitted with nearside cameras.
Vehicle camera monitoring systems must aim to completely eliminate or minimise the remaining blind spot on the nearside of the vehicle as far as possible.
Fit a sensor system to alert the driver to nearby people
A sensor system must be fitted to the nearside of the vehicle, which alerts the driver when a road user is in a vulnerable spot near the vehicle. No vehicle type is exempt from this rule.
Sensors on rigid vehicles must cover six metres down the nearside or one metre from the rear of the vehicle, whichever is smaller. Additional front sensors are recommended. Sensors should not be activated by stationary vehicles or non-moving objects such as lampposts.
B. Improve vulnerable road-user awareness
Add pictorial warning stickers
You must add pictorial stickers and markings to the outside of your HGV to warn people they may be in the driver’s blind spot. Any text must be large enough for a cyclist or pedestrian to read it at a reasonable distance from the vehicle.
These warning signs must NOT give instructions telling pedestrians or cyclists to move away from the vehicle. Many London roads still have metal guard rails between pavements and roads, making this impossible.
Originally installed to protect pedestrians from cars which mount the pavement, they have turned out to be deadly for cyclists, who can be crushed against them. One part of the longer-term plan is to remove these guard rails and alter the layout of some of London’s most dangerous junctions.
Fit an audible vehicle manoeuvring warning system
Vehicle manoeuvring warning sirens must be fitted, to warn road users when a vehicle is turning left. No vehicle type is exempt from this rule.
The warning system should be 65 to 88 decibels, with a manual on-off switch for use between 11pm and 7am. The ideal system should combine spoken warnings and white noise, and should require the least possible intervention by the driver, advises Transport for London.
C. Reduce severity of injuries
Fit side under-run protection
These panels make sure people cannot slip under the vehicle between the wheels. Side under-run protection must be fitted to both sides of the vehicle. Flat guard side panel protection is the recommended type.
There are two exceptions. Tanker-type vehicles which carry fluid can operate without side run protection, if fitting it would make it absolutely impossible to attach the hose or pipe connections. Vehicle transporters (including breakdown recovery vehicles) are also exempt, if it is impossible to fit side under-run protection.
When your vehicle is fully upgraded, you can apply for its permit online. Permits are free of charge.
You will need to enter
If your application is rejected, you will be told the reasons and allowed to re-apply.
Permits are registered to vehicles and their owner. This means if you buy an HGV after October 2020, you must apply for a new permit even if the vehicle already has one.
The Direct Vision Standard is part of the Vision Zero plan, which aims to bring road deaths and serious injuries in London down to zero by 2041. The current rules of the Direct Vision Standard will become stricter in 2024 as part of the progression to safer London streets.
London will also implement safer street design, safer speed limits and other measures. Some of London’s worst accident hotspots are being completely redesigned with new road layouts.
Britain has chosen to take the lead worldwide, being the first country to apply new safety regulations. The long-term plan is for HGVs to have glass doors and other design modifications, so that the driver’s direct vision is greatly increased. The government is working with a large group of vehicle manufacturers to improve the standards for direct vision from HGV cabs.
Our suppliers can advise you on your ‘Safe System’ installation, recommending the best cameras, sensors and other equipment to bring your zero star HGVs in line with the new DVS law.