The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) is a safety measure introduced in London with the goal of reducing the dangers that Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) pose to vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. As the first regulatory standard of its kind, London’s Direct Vision Standard evaluates and rates HGVs depending on the driver’s direct line of sight from the vehicle’s cab windows.
Initiated by Transport for London (TfL), DVS mandates that all HGVs over 12 tonnes (Gross Vehicle Weight) entering or operating in Greater London must have a valid HGV safety permit. It forms part of TfL’s Vision Zero for London plan, which aims to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from road collisions by 2041.
This requirement is based on the vehicle’s star rating, with minimum ratings set to increase over time. Vehicles are assigned a star rating between zero (poor) and five (excellent) based on how well the driver can directly see other road users without relying on mirrors or cameras.
When the DVS system was first implemented in 2021, HGV’s were required to have at least a one-star rating in order to operate in Greater London. However, from October 2024 the minimum requirement will be raised to three stars which means any vehicles with a one or two-star rating will need to equip their vehicles with additional safety features. The goal is to identify the blind spots inherent to certain vehicle designs that contribute to accidents in busy urban areas.
HGVs that don’t meet the minimum required star rating can still operate in the area as long as operators implement certain ‘Safe System’ measures, such as external cameras, sensors, and warning signs to alert other road users of the vehicle’s movements. The overall aim of DVS is to improve road safety and reduce the number of fatal and severe accidents involving HGVs.
To begin the application process, operators will first need to check their vehicle’s star rating with the manufacturer. If the vehicle already has a rating between one to five stars, you will be able to apply for a permit without having to submit any additional evidence.
If your vehicle does not meet the required standard, you will need to install the necessary safe system equipment and submit evidence of installation alongside the permit application. Evidence can be provided in the form of clear, colour photographs of the safe system equipment that you’ve fitted into your vehicle. You’ll also need to submit a photograph of the vehicle that clearly displays the vehicle registration number.
Once you’ve equipped your HGV with the appropriate vehicle safety measures, you can fill out and submit the application to receive written confirmation of your vehicle’s new DVS star rating. The DVS permit application process is completely free of charge and can be accessed through the TfL website.
Once you’ve completed the application process on the TfL website and your documentation has been approved, TfL will send written confirmation that your HGV adheres to the Direct Vision Standard requirements. Your HGV safety permit will be issued electronically and no hard copies will be sent to you.
The DVS will be enforced via the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras placed throughout Greater London. The ANPR cameras will record all vehicles that enter London and compare the vehicle’s details with TfL’s database of vehicles that have valid safety permits.
Any HGV found to be in breach of the permit scheme or not in adherence with the DVS will be issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of up to £550 – which can be reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days. TfL also has the ability to revoke or suspend a permit if the vehicle is found to be in breach of the permit terms.
The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) holds vital importance in enhancing road safety by improving driver visibility, particularly around larger vehicles like trucks and buses, thereby reducing blind spots and the potential for accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. When using a vehicle tracking system in conjunction with DVS-compliant regulations, fleet managers help to better identify areas of improvement for safer driving.
If your vehicle has a star rating of fewer than three stars by October 2024, you’ll need to equip your HGV with the necessary safe system features such as additional cameras, monitors, and sensors. Failure to comply may lead to the issuing of a Penalty Charge Notice.
The minimum required star rating for HGVs is expected to increase over time to further promote road safety. The next update to the DVS will take place in October 2024, after which the minimum star rating required for HGVs will be raised to three stars.
Before applying for a safety permit, you’ll need to check your vehicle’s current star rating. You can do so by contacting the vehicle manufacturers directly. Operators can also check through the TfL website by entering the vehicle details such as the make, model, and year of manufacture.
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