As most operators and fleet managers know, keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of compliance can often be a daunting and arduous task. And for the vast number of businesses that exist within, or send fleets into Greater London daily, there’s another compliance box to tick now with the arrival of the TfL Direct Vision permit.
What is the Direct Vision Standard?
Transport for London’s (TfL) Direct Vision Standard (DVS) requires all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 12 tonnes to meet set safety criteria in order to receive a permit to enter and operate in Greater London.
Put simply, DVS measures the visibility an HGV driver has through their cab windows – if visibility is compromised in any way that could pose a risk to vulnerable road users, you won’t get a direct vision permit.
DVS, which becomes mandatory from March 2021 forms part of TfL’s Vision Zero Plan, which was developed to improve the safety of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in order to eliminate death and serious injury on London’s transport network.
How do I know if my vehicles are eligible for a permit?
TfL have made it very easy for you to check your eligibility on their website – all you have to do is simply input your vehicle reg and country of registration and it will provide you with your vehicle’s current direct vision star rating. Then, to be declared eligible for a HGV safety permit, you must ensure your vehicle meets a minimum ‘one-star’ rating.
1-5 stars (with 5 stars meaning excellent direct vision) and you can apply for your permit straight away. If you get zero stars there’s some work to do. You will be required to fit approved ‘Safe System’ direct vision standard equipment, reapply and provide supporting evidence (two photos) that your vehicle now has improved visibility.
Zero star vehicles with an approved Safe System will be granted a permit until 25 October 2024, after which the Progressive Safe System will be required for vehicles rated two star or below.
What are the ‘Safe System’ measures?
TfL is very clear in its guidance that you must fit your vehicle with ALL the following equipment, and any deviation from the guidance will result in a fine.
The full details are:
Improving indirect vision and nearside visibility:
• Class V and VI mirrors
• A fully operational camera monitoring system
• A sensor system with driver alerts
Warning of intended manoeuvres:
• An audible vehicle manoeuvring warning for left turns (or right turns if the vehicle is left-hand drive)
• Warning signage
Minimise physical impact:
• Side-underrun protection
As a business that’s supported fleet operators for more than 25 years with leading fleet management tools, we know how much of a pain changes in legislation can be, so we’ve launched our DVS Technology Pack to help you meet London’s Direct Vision Standard.
Ensuring fleets achieve three of the required safety rating standards, our new technology package includes a nearside, rear-facing blind spot camera and in-cab monitor screen for the driver, to eliminate blind spots and increase visibility. It also consists of a close proximity sensor system to detect the presence of nearby objects, as well as audible alerts, which signal to vulnerable road users that a vehicle is about to make a left turn.
What happens if I don’t have a permit?
It’s honestly not worth the risk. From the launch date, if you drive in Greater London without the permit you will receive a DVS penalty charge of up to £550 for an operator, and £130 for a driver – enough to take away the profit from any day’s work. The operator fine will be reduced to £275 if paid within 14 days, but it’s much wiser to ensure your fleet is compliant instead of running the gauntlet with TfL. Permit suspensions are also in place for any vehicle that was given a direct vision standard star rating but was later found to be in breach i.e. if something on the vehicle changes since the original application.
How do I apply for a TfL DVS permit?
Again, very simply: through the TfL website. Once you’ve checked your vehicle’s star rating, you can simply click ‘apply’ and applications are free of charge.
Is there a difference between FORS Silver and TfL DVS Compliance?
In simple terms, one is government mandated (DVS) and the other is a recognition initiative (FORS): you must have the first to operate in the geography it covers, and the second is an opt-in to build trust with customers and the wider industry.
Operators and vehicles who already hold a FORS Silver accreditation will already be covering most of the vehicle safety requests and therefore receive a good ‘stars’ rating on the DVS application, so applying for a permit will be no hassle at all.
TfL will not recognise FORS Silver accreditation as a valid reason for you operating in Greater London without a DVS permit – you must have the latter to avoid being fined.
Will the DVS live date be delayed due to Coronavirus?
Yes - though the original launch date for DVS remains the same as October 26th 2020, enforcement will not begin until March 2021.