Major cities worldwide are spearheading initiatives to substantially increase the safety levels of their roads and transport systems through the adoption of Vision Zero. London stands at the forefront of this movement, led by Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has set a bold target: to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from London's transport network by 2041.

To achieve this goal, Transport for London (TfL) has developed an updated Direct Vision Standard (DVS) which commences on 28 October 2024. This standard aims to reduce incidents involving pedestrians and cyclists with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by addressing visibility challenges, ultimately creating safer roads and improving driver behaviour.

What is the Direct Vision Standard?

The DVS is a legislative system designed to quantify the degree of visibility available to HGV drivers. It uses a rating scale ranging from zero to five stars, with zero indicating minimal visibility and five stars representing optimal visibility.

The standard evaluates and assigns appropriate ratings to HGVs based on various factors influencing the driver's direct line of sight from the vehicle's cab windows. Considerations include the vehicle's dimensions and configuration, the placement of the driver's cab, and the effectiveness of mirrors and windows in facilitating visibility.

Who Will Be Affected by the Direct Vision Standard?

The DVS dictates that all HGVs with a gross vehicle weight of over 12 tonnes must possess a valid HGV safety permit when entering or operating in Greater London. This requirement is contingent upon the vehicle's star rating. Initially, when the DVS system was introduced in 2021, HGVs were obliged to have a minimum one-star rating to be used within the zone.

However, effective October 28, 2024, the minimum requirement will be elevated to three stars. This enhancement implies that vehicles rated between 0 to 2 stars must adhere to the updated DVS ‘Progressive Safe System’ measures.

DVS Progressive Safe System Requirements

  1. A camera monitoring system (CMS) must be installed on the nearside of the vehicle to eliminate blind spots.
  2. Class V and VI mirrors, or a CMS as a substitute for mirrors if preferred, should be installed on the front and nearside of the vehicle.
  3. A blind spot information system (BLIS) must ensure full nearside coverage of rigid vehicles to detect vulnerable road users. Activation should not occur in response to roadside furniture or stationary vehicles.
  4. A moving off information system (MOIS) must be mounted on the front of the vehicle to alert the driver about vulnerable road users and thereby prevent collisions in the front blind spot zone when the vehicle starts moving.
  5. Side under-run protection must be fitted on both sides of the vehicle, except where impractical.
  6. Audible warnings must be installed to provide adequate alerts to vulnerable road users when the vehicle is turning left or, for left-hand drive vehicles, turning right.
  7. External warning signage must be prominently displayed on vehicles to offer clear visual warnings of hazards around the vehicle.

How Do I Check my Vehicle’s DVS Star Rating?

To obtain your vehicle's star rating, you'll need to contact the manufacturer and request a DVS star rating assessment. Simply provide the vehicle's chassis number (VIN), and the manufacturer will calculate the rating. Once determined, they will notify you of the rating by sending a document or email.

How Do I Apply for a DVS Permit?

After getting your vehicle’s star rating, you can submit it for a DVS permit free of charge via the TfL website. Fleet managers can conveniently apply for 5 to 3,000 vehicles at once through a multi vehicle application. Upon receiving confirmation, an electronic permit will be issued.

However, if your vehicle receives an insufficient star rating from the manufacturer, it becomes your responsibility to bring it up to standard by incorporating the Progressive Safe System measures mentioned earlier. When submitting the application, you must include clear, colour photographic evidence of your Safe System equipment. Your application will then undergo review, and if approved, you'll receive your safety permit. If rejected, you'll have to reapply.

What Happens If You Don’t Comply with DVS Regulations?

Driving a vehicle that doesn't comply with the DVS regulations will lead to the issuance of a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £550. You may receive separate PCNs for each day you drive within Greater London without a valid HGV safety permit. If paid within 14 days, the fine is discounted by 50% to £275.

Failure to pay the PCN within 28 days of service will result in an increased fine of £825. TfL is also able to revoke or suspend a permit if a vehicle which has been granted one is later found to be in breach of the terms.

Enforcement of the DVS will be carried out 24/7 using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras strategically positioned across the area. These cameras will digitally capture the licence plate registrations of all vehicles entering London and cross-reference them with TfL’s database of vehicles holding valid safety permits.

How MICHELIN Connected Fleet’s Direct Vision Standard Solution Can Help

In response to evolving DVS regulations, we at MICHELIN Connected Fleet have developed comprehensive DVS solutions which enable fleets to operate safely and compliantly within Greater London. Our solutions integrate front and side-facing pedestrian detection AI cameras, visual alert monitors, in-cab speakers for auditory alerts, night-time silencers, all-in-one turn alerts, and blindspot warning stickers into one single package.

By implementing our DVS solutions, your fleet vehicles will not only meet current DVS regulations, but also seamlessly adapt to the upcoming changes in October 2024. This ensures the safety of other road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, enhances your drivers' visibility, and significantly reduces the expenses associated with accidents alongside any subsequent repair costs.

Given the heightened focus on safety measures in London, it's probable that other cities will soon follow suit, a similar case being the ULEZ expansion. With road safety gaining prominence as a critical issue, the scope of the DVS could even extend much beyond London's borders. Likewise, it's possible that the current DVS scheme and timeline could change as a result of pressure from industry bodies and political changes.

And so, now more than ever, it's essential to future-proof your fleet. If you’re interested in properly preparing your fleet, avoiding fines due to DVS violations, and contributing to an overall safer transport network for London, then be sure to make an enquiry into our services today.