Transport for London (TfL) tells us that another step forward for London’s world-leading ‘Direct Vision Standard’ and safer roads for vulnerable road users, as public give their support ahead of October launch. It will serve to increase the safety of heavy goods vehicles from October, as part of the Mayor of London and TfL’s Vision Zero commitment. This all begs the question – how far behind is Dublin in this regard?
TfL says that the positive public response to a consultation on its world-first proposal to revolutionise the safety of HGVs on London’s streets. The majority of consultation respondents were supportive of the final scheme proposals, including the permit application process, Safe System requirements and enforcement of the scheme.
The Direct Vision Standard will tackle road danger at its source by minimising HGVs’ blind spots, which contribute to many tragic deaths and life-changing injuries. This world-leading improvement, which will now be included in future European road safety regulation, will have safety benefits for people walking, cycling and riding motorcycles, who are more vulnerable on London’s roads.
Restrictions in an HGV driver’s field of vision, or ‘blind spots’ have been identified as a significant contributory factor in collisions. Research shows that between 2015 and 2017, HGVs were disproportionately involved in fatal collisions with people cycling (63 per cent) and walking (25 per cent) on London’s streets, despite only making up four per cent of the miles driven in the capital.
To overcome this, HGVs will be categorised depending on the level of a driver’s direct vision from a cab, and will then be given a rating between ‘zero-star’ (lowest) and ‘five-star’ (highest). Only those vehicles rated ‘one-star’ and above, or those that have comprehensive safety systems, will be able to operate in London from 2020. From 2024, the minimum requirement will be ‘three-star’ or a Progressive Safe System.
HGVs that do not meet the required Direct Vision Standard star rating will need to improve the overall safety through Safe System mitigating measures such as cameras, sensors and audible warnings.
TfL has also provided clearer guidance on the requirements for the Safe System mitigating measures and enforcement, as well as additional details on the appeals process regarding any Penalty Charge Notice issued as part of the scheme. It has also responded to questions around the Safe System, driver training and the application process for the HGV Safety Permit.
TfL is also inviting the public to have their say on the final consultation, which opens today. The consultation presents the final scheme proposals and gives people the opportunity to feed back on the proposed traffic regulation order required to implement the scheme. This further consultation follows three rounds of consultation in 2016, 2018 and 2019, firstly on the principles of a Direct Vision Standard and then a proposal for an HGV safety permit scheme.
Last month, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament agreed on a final direct vision requirement, which is set to become a legal necessity for all lorries manufactured in Europe. TfL and the Mayor have worked with road safety campaigners and other European cities, to successfully shorten the implementation timescales for this and encourage more ambitious requirements for categories of vehicles typically used in the city environment to be considered. This is a major step in reducing road danger and will help make all HGVs safer across Europe.
The timeline for the Direct Vision Standard is as follows:
• October 2019: The first permits will be issued. Trucks rated 0* will need to upgrade to a Safe System in order to get a permit
• 2020: Enforcement begins
• 2022: Consultation on the progressive Safe System
• 2024: The minimum Direct Vision Standard star rating increases from one to three star or a progressive Safe System