Transport for London (TfL) says it has “public support” for new safety standards aimed at reducing the number of road accidents involving trucks.

The new Direct Vision Standard (DVS) will be introduced from October, and will see HGVs over 12 tonnes issued with star ratings to determine the visibility drivers have from the vehicle cab. Any vehicles with one-star ratings or higher will automatically qualify for a permit to drive in London, but those given a zero-star rating will need to prove they have been upgraded to a “Safe System”.

Enforcement of the system will begin in 2020, at which point any HGVs driving through the capital will need a permit. The system will change again in 2024, when the requirement for a permit will rise from a one-star rating to three stars or a “progressive Safe System”.

Delivery truck crosses Westminster Bridge with no traffic at dawn in London

The scheme has been deemed necessary by those in City Hall after research showed HGVs in London were involved in 63 percent of fatal collisions with cyclists and 25 percent of fatal collisions with pedestrians, despite only covering four percent of the total miles driven in the city. Eventually, TfL hopes the DVS will help it achieve its goal of “eliminating all deaths and serious injuries from London's roads” by 2041.

HGV and bicyclist share the road in London

As part of the proposal process, TfL has just released the results of a consultation on the scheme, claiming the “majority of respondents were supportive”. However, that follows the organisation’s decision to change the process slightly, introducing another consultation in 2022 to let transport organisations have their say on the Safe System requirements for 2024. TfL says it has also clarified its position regarding the Safe System, driver training and the application process required for the HGV Safety Permit.

But even so, the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which represents British logistics companies and worked with TfL to modify the proposal, said Khan should focus on persuading international powers to introduce technology that would prevent accidents, rather than concentrating on visibility from vehicles.

HGV truck delivering concrete for New Battersea Railway Station in London

“While the updated proposals for DVS are more workable for operators then earlier versions, it remains true that technological development and design standards for new vehicles – which would be best set at an international level – would provide a robust, long-term solution for road safety,” said Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at the FTA. “The FTA is calling on the Mayor to realise the value this would provide and commit to focussing on new vehicle technologies to fast-track zero vehicular harm in the capital.

Tesco lorry in front of Big Ben during delivery at Victoria Embankment street

“The FTA fully supports the Mayor of London’s zero harm ambition; the freight industry takes road safety extremely seriously. The FTA has been working closely with TfL throughout the development of DVS and is very pleased to see that many of our practical concerns about the scheme have been taken on board. That said, Sadiq Khan seems determined to focus on visibility from the cab, which has limited benefits, when it is new technology that will deliver far greater and more ongoing safety improvements.”

HGV truck in London traffic during heavy rain

But Alex Williams, director of city planning at TfL, insisted the plan would help reduce casualties on the roads.

“Our plan to reduce road danger around HGVs is a world first and will save hundreds of lives,” he said. “By working with the freight industry and listening to their views, we are creating a scheme that works for everyone.”