Tuesday 14 Feb 2023
Transport for London (TfL) is asking people to have their say on proposals to improve lorry safety in London, by making changes to London’s pioneering Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and HGV safety permit scheme. Data from 2018 to 2020 showed HGVs were involved in nearly half of fatal collisions involving people cycling and 19 per cent of collisions involving people walking. The proposed changes are designed to improve the safety standards of HGVs operating in the capital, further reducing the risks to vulnerable road users such as people walking and cycling.
TfL’s HGV safety permit scheme, first introduced in 2019, requires all operators of HGVs weighing more than 12 tonnes to apply for a free permit to operate in London. Data shows that fatal collisions involving HGVs where vision is cited as a contributing factor halved from 12 in 2018, the year before the scheme was introduced, to six in 2021.
A permit is granted if the vehicle meets the minimum DVS star rating, which is based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab windows. Ratings range from zero stars (the lowest rating with poor direct vision) to five stars (the highest rating with excellent direct vision). Vehicles that do not meet the minimum requirements, currently one star, must already have or fit the ‘Safe System’. This is a series of vehicle safety measures, such as mirrors, sensors and cameras, which are designed to reduce the risks that HGVs present to people walking and cycling.
TfL is now asking people to have their say on recommendations to enhance the current Safe System, taking into account new and emerging technology or safety equipment that was not previously available. Moving to a new Progressive Safe System is vital to TfL’s and the Mayor’s continued efforts to meet the Vision Zero goal of eliminating all deaths and serious injuries from London's transport network by 2041. TfL estimates that these new safety requirements will be applied to around 165,000 vehicles, which is 90 per cent of the existing fleet operating in London.
Proposed changes to the Safe System include:
TfL is asking people to have their say on the changes and a consultation is now open until 3 April 2023. Feedback will help to inform and finalise the development of the Progressive Safe System requirements.
Fatal collisions involving HGVs and vulnerable road users where vision was a contributory factor have halved since 2018, down from 12 to six, falling from eight in 2020 to six in 2021, the first year of DVS enforcement. The overall number of serious collisions involving HGVs has also reduced over the same period from 39 to 17.
Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner said “Enabling more Londoners to walk and cycle safely is a top priority for the Mayor and it’s at the heart of our plans for a greener and more sustainable London for everyone. Data shows that our world-leading Direct Vision Standard is playing an important role in reducing the level of risk posed by HGVs to people walking and cycling in the capital.
“Every death and serious injury on our roads is a tragedy and it’s clear that there is still more work to do, which is why TfL is now asking Londoners to have their say on the next phase of plans which would strengthen HGV safety measures even further.”
Christina Calderato, TfL's Director of Transport Strategy and Policy, said: “It’s crucial that all vehicles using London’s roads have safety at the forefront of their design and our world-first Direct Vision Standard has helped to significantly improve lorry safety. We will continue to take every possible measure to eradicate deaths and serious injuries from our roads, which is why we are proposing to enhance the safe systems for HGVs. All feedback to our consultation is important to developing the best possible set of requirements and I'd encourage everyone affected to take part.”
Victoria Lebrec from Action Vision Zero said: “TfL should be commended for the Direct Vision Standard Scheme. The risk that HGVs pose to people walking and cycling is unacceptable, and it will not be possible for London to prevent death and injury on its roads until HGV blind spots are eliminated.
“I personally lost a leg when the driver of a skip lorry turned left across my path in 2014, and I'm certain that the crash would have been prevented had the driver's vehicle been a five star vehicle. Many people have been killed and seriously injured since my crash, and I'm grateful to TfL for its commitment to preventing these crashes happening in the future.”
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