London’s Direct Vision Standard lorry safety scheme is now underway after applications opened for the permits that will allow HGVs to enter the city.

The scheme, which Transport for London (TfL) describes as the first of its kind, is designed to minimise HGV blind spots. Based on how much a driver can see directly through their cab windows, the unique star system rates HGVs over 12 tonnes from zero to five. HGVs will need to meet a minimum 'one-star' rating by the time enforcement begins on October 26, 2020 to enable them to operate in London.

TfL says the scheme is necessary because trucks are “disproportionately involved” in fatal collisions. According to the organisation, which runs London’s transport network, they account for just four percent of the overall miles driven in the capital, but between 2015 and 2017, HGVs were involved in 63 percent of fatal collisions involving cyclists and 25 percent involving pedestrians.

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

HGV operators wishing to use their vehicles can now apply for the permits, which are valid only for individual vehicles, 12 months before the enforcement of the scheme begins. Vehicles that do not meet the one-star rating will have to prove they have fitted ‘safe system’ measures that improve the vehicle’s safety before a permit will be granted.

When enforcement begins next year, it will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and operators who enter the Greater London Boundary without a permit will be issued with a penalty charge. The scheme is part of the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero plans to eliminate road fatalities in the capital by 2041.

Lorry lineup

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I'm proud of our world-leading plans to remove the most dangerous lorries from London's streets. So many of the tragic deaths on our roads involve HGVs and this new scheme will help save lives.”

But the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which represents haulage companies, said it supported the Vision Zero plans, but not the Direct Vision Standard. However, the organisation urged businesses to apply for their permits “as soon as possible” in order to ensure they could continue to use their vehicles.

RHA Dunlop lorry in London

“As the organisation speaking on behalf of the logistics sector, FTA fully supports the Mayor of London’s ‘Vision Zero’ approach to improving road safety, but we do not believe DVS is the most effective approach – it is a limited and expensive intervention,” said Christopher Snelling, Head of UK policy at the FTA. “Instead, Sadiq Khan should have focused on the development of technological safety solutions, such as advanced cameras, sensors, and automatic emergency braking which would work to eliminate the element of human error.

“FTA has, however, been working closely with Transport for London during the scheme’s development and is pleased to see that many of our suggestions have been taken on board. For example, those operating larger fleets will no longer be required to provide as much detail as first thought; logistics is already one of the most heavily legislated sectors of industry and more administrative burden would have been untenable.”

Man on tiny scooter between car and HGV truck in London traffic