Transport for London (TfL) wants to increase the degree to which drivers are able to see traffic around them, particularly cyclists and other vulnerable road users, to reduce the potential for collisions. Its proposals, launched last year, have proved controversial partly because of their accelerated schedule, with deadlines in 2020 and 2024. However, that line has since been softened with the announcement of a compromise solution that involves retrofitting non-compliant trucks with additional safety equipment.
In June, TfL released detailed plans for this so-called HGV Safety Permit scheme, though this depends on the outcome of a final consultation in 2019.
Direct Vision Standards requirements will enter into force on 26 October 2020, the same date as the start of strengthened low emission zone regulations, and, like those, will apply round the clock, seven days a week. Trucks whose design is rated lower than the minimum DVS standard stipulated – one star at that time, three stars in 2024 – may still operate in Greater London, provided they meet the terms of the ‘Safe System’ permit. Mostly, that means the addition of extra mirrors, cameras and sensors. Operators will have to apply for permits for each vehicle, and will be responsible for demonstrating compliance. Permits, to be issued from October 2019, will be free of charge.
The permit makes six requirements. First, extra mirrors are to be fitted to minimise front and side blind spots as much as possible. They include fitment of a Class V, or close-proximity mirror on the passenger side, and Class VI, or wide-view mirror, on the front. Second, they must install a camera system that covers the entire length of the vehicle (nearside only), and includes an in-cab monitor. Third, there needs to be a detector system fitted to the front and nearside of the vehicle that sends an alert when a vulnerable road user is close. Fourth, the vehicle must have a left-hand turn alarm fitted, as well as (fifth) sporting vehicle hazard warning labels. Finally, side under-run protection is also required; these bars along the exterior of the truck body prevent someone being crushed underneath the rear axle (but see table for exemptions).
The guidance, available on https://is.gd/ciraco, also includes maintenance and training stipulations, to make sure that the systems remain operational, and that drivers use them (“activation of the device is an integral part of their job”).
Furthermore, it advises, but does not require, that drivers be given specific training to deal with vulnerable road users, such as a guided bicycle ride in the city (see also https://is.gd/awevoz), and to understand ‘the use and limitations’ of the extra equipment fitted. Such training could be applied toward Driver CPC requirements.
Proposed fines for non-compliance amount to £550 for the operator.
Emergency services vehicles (for example, ambulances and fire engines)
Armed forces vehicles
Unfinished cabs or trucks
EXEMPT FROM SIDE GUARDS REQUIREMENT
Road sweepers and gully emptiers
Tractors for articulated vehicles
Trucks fitted with cranes or aerial work platforms
Tankers and vehicle transporters, if fitment is not practical because of connectors
Trucks with blocking equipment (gaps <300mm)
NOT EXEMPT FROM DVS OR SAFE SYSTEM
Low-mileage council vehicles over 12t gvw, such as specialist gritters
Trailers for showman’s vehicles
Rubbish collection vehicles