Thousands of HGVs break new safety rules

03/06/2021
Chris Ames

Transport for London (TfL) has slapped HGV operators with penalty charge notices (PCN) worth nearly £4m since March under its Direct Vision Standard (DVS) road safety scheme.

The scheme requires owners of HGVs weighing more than 12 tonnes to apply for a permit that assigns vehicles a star rating based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab windows.

Permits are electronic and enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, with operators of non-compliant vehicles issued with PCNs of £550 per day, reduced by half if paid within 14 days.

TfL enforcement officers also carry out roadside inspections to check that HGVs are safe and safety measures are in place, resulting in some permits being revoked.

TfL said that since the scheme was launched in March 7,000 PCNs have been issued.

Overall, more than 136,000 permits have been issued, compared with 90,000 at the start of the scheme. These including more than 4,000 to 5-star vehicles, which provide the highest levels of direct vision, up from 3,000 in March.

Around 70,000 – more than half – permits issued were to zero-star HGVs that have had safe systems fitted, up from 30,000 in March, meaning that the vast majority of the 46,000 new permits were to such vehicles.

HGVs accounted for just 3% of the overall miles driven in London from 2018 to 20, yet were involved in nearly half (41%) of fatal collisions involving people cycling and 19% involving people walking.

TfL’s head of transport strategy and planning, Christina Calderato, said: ‘In just a few months our Direct Vision Standard has helped to dramatically improve the safety of lorries and save lives. We want to thank all of the freight operators who have led the way in ensuring they only operate the safest lorries in London and across the UK and we would like to encourage any freight operators who haven’t yet applied for a safety permit to do so.’

Kate Cairns, Founder of See Me Save Me, said: ‘The success of the DVS shows how hard work, collaboration and willingness to take action can change culture. We remember the thousand who have lost their lives over this decade of change, as we continue to build on the great work of TfL, industry and campaigners to ensure safe lorries are ubiquitous not just in London but across the UK and Europe.’

Safe systems for zero-star vehicles include:

  • High quality mirrors and side guards
  • Cameras covering blind spots linked to an in-cab display
  • An audible warning when turning left
  • Motion sensors covering the sides of the HGV at low speeds
  • A prominent warning on the back of the vehicle
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