The Transport for London Direct Vision Standard (DVS) was launched in September, that is designed to improve the safety of cyclists on London’s roads.
For cyclists in London, lorries are a hazard. Over the last three years, 70% of cyclist fatalities are due to a collision with a lorry. The DVS was thought up as a way to ensure that HGV drivers can see what is around them and hopefully not then hope for the best at a junction and hit cyclists.
So what is the scheme and what does it involve?
DVS star ratings
Lorries will be given a star rating according to their cab design, from 1-5 stars. There are certain lorries on the road even today that meet 5 star standards, but a sizeable number achieve 0 stars. For example, the Mercedes-Benz Econic low cab gets five stars; the Volvo FMX, without lower door window, ranks zero stars (with door window, it wins a single star).
Over the coming years it will become necessary for HGVs entering London to conform to increased star ratings so they become safer for cyclists and pedestrians. From 2020 all HGVs over 12 tonnes will have to have a DVS rating of 1 star unless they have other sensors on board. In 2024 they will have to conform to the 2 star rating.
Reaction from different parties
From our perspective at cycleinjuries.co.uk, anything that improves cycling safety in London can only be a good thing. One death a year is too many, and where there is a definite area where cycle injuries and deaths in London can be reduced, it is for the Mayor to take the lead to tackle the problem – in doing so, it shows leadership on a very serious issue. London is a global capital and moves on the part of TfL will have a ripple effect to the rest of the UK and hopefully improve cycling safety beyond the M25 too. There have been different views to our own though.
The Road Haulage Association has been a lone voice in trying to shout down the scheme. The trade association (which this week whined about the T Charge) has taken a very negative view to anything that will cost haulage companies money. One does wonder whether the economy is designed to serve people in the RHA’s mind or whether people should serve the economy…
More positive responses have come from truck manufacturers such as Renault: Commercial director Nigel Butler said, “Renault has worked closely with TfL throughout this consultation. While we have a number of questions regarding the interim DVS ratings communicated today, we hope that these can be resolved before the next consultation phase in the autumn. We believe the proposal for a ‘safety standard permit scheme’ is a sensible one.”
Councillor Julian Bell, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “Improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists, who are more vulnerable to the risks posed by lorries is a high priority for London’s boroughs. I therefore welcome the announcement of the new Direct Vision Standard ratings and call on vehicle manufacturers to develop more lorry cabs that rate highly. London Councils and the boroughs will continue to work closely with TfL to remove the most dangerous lorries from London’s streets.”
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