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Bye-Bye Blind Spots: London’s Direct Vision Standard

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As anyone involved in delivery work knows, blind spots can pose serious dangers to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Even a near-miss or a collision in which no-one is hurt can be damaging, leading to high costs in repairs and insurance, delayed deliveries and stress for all involved.

Manufacturers already have incentives to produce vehicles with good lines of sight, but sometimes a little more is needed – like a regulatory nudge in the right direction.

In that spirit, Transport for London (TfL) is working to introduce a new Direct Vision standard. Read on and we’ll take you through the key points.

What is it?

Direct Vision aims to make delivery work safer by introducing a new rating system for vehicles and restricting those that can operate in the capital. From 2020, only vehicles that meet a certain standard for line of sight will be allowed to operate on city streets.

Those vehicles that don’t meet the standard may only drive in London if they have alternative ‘Safe System’ requirements, such as audible warnings, sensors and cameras.

Why do we Need it?

HGVs doing delivery work make up only 4% of the total miles driven in London. But in the period from 2015 to 2017 they were disproportionately involved in collisions, hitting pedestrians 25% more than average and cyclists 63% more.

In many of these cases, the driver’s inability to properly see the road around them was found to be a significant factor in causing the crash.

Star Ratings

The new standard will see HGVs categorised on the level of direct vision they offer from the cab, with a system running from zero to five stars. From 2020, vehicles rated below one star without alternative safety arrangements will be banned in London.

In 2024, the bar will be raised higher, with HGVs needing to operate an improved Progressive Safe System, or receive three stars or higher for visibility.

Public Support

The plan has already received positive responses from the public, with TfL research reporting the following statistics:

60% either agreed or strongly agreed with the proposed application process
61% either agreed or strongly agreed with the star rating system
67% either agreed or strongly agreed with proposed mitigating measures
On top of this, 57% of those surveyed supported proposals for enforcing the scheme.

Moving Forwards

Alex Williams, director of city planning at TfL, notes that the Direct Vision scheme is a ‘world first’. By engaging with those who do delivery work and ‘listening to their views’, Williams says TfL hopes to ‘save hundreds of lives.’

And they have ambitious ideas for the future, too. Williams notes that the European Commission has already included the new scheme in its recent safety review, meaning that similar ideas will likely be included in future EU regulations.

All in all, Direct Vision could have a major impact on delivery work, reducing collisions and costs across the board by encouraging manufacturers and fleets to invest in safer vehicles.
About author: Desiree Michels

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work with available drivers, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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