The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) comes into force in March 2021, and it requires all heavy vehicles over 12 tonnes to obtain a safety permit in order to operate in the Greater London area. In order to get a permit, businesses will need to meet a rating of 1 at the very least.
If you don’t meet this minimum star rating, you’ll need to either replace your vehicle with one that’s compliant, or retrofit your vehicles with safety measures known as “Safe System” improvements. With the risk of obtaining a £550 fine each time you’re found to be non-compliant, knowing what these Safe System features are is crucial.
In this blog, we explain what the Safe System is, why it’s in place and how you can ensure your vehicle is up to standard.
What is the Safe System?
The Safe System is a series of measures under the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) that are designed to reduce the potential risks that HGVs could present to pedestrians and cyclists in the Greater London area.
The first review of the Safe System will be in 2024, where the minimum star rating for HGVs will be raised to 3 stars. This is called the Progressive Safe System, and it is important to bear in mind when assessing what equipment you require to get your vehicles up to standard.
However, currently Safe System measures are to be implemented on zero star-rated vehicles only, and must achieve the following:
- Improve indirect vision
- Warn road users of intended manoeuvres
- Minimise the physical impact of a hazard
We’ll now look at each of these requirements in detail, including what equipment is needed to meet these aims.
Improve direct vision
If your vehicle receives a star rating of zero, it means that the risk of close-proximity collisions is still present, and therefore measures need to be taken to reduce this.
In order to be compliant, your vehicle must have front and all side blind spots either completely removed or minimised as much as possible. In order to do this, the Safe System equipment you need is:
A fully operational camera monitoring system
No heavy vehicles are exempt from this requirement, which aims to completely eliminate blind spots or reduce them as much as possible. Ideally, monitors in your vehicle cab should be positioned close to the window edge or in the mirror location, without blocking the view through the window. For left-hand drive vehicles, the camera should be fitted to account for the blind spot on the right-hand side. This will help minimise the time needed for the driver to move their eyes to scan the monitor.
Class V and Class VI mirrors
In order to improve visibility for drivers, both Class V and VI mirrors should be fitted to the vehicle; with Class V mirrors on the nearside, and Class VI mirrors at the front. Again, for left-hand drive vehicles, mirrors should account for blind spots on the right-hand side.
A sensor system with alerts for drivers
Sensors are essential for alerting drivers to the presence of pedestrians or cyclists, and they should be fitted to the nearside of a vehicle (again accounting for right-hand side blind spots). Sensors should be properly operational, which means they should ensure 6 metre coverage down the nearside of the vehicle, or 1 metre from the rear - depending which is smaller. Sensors should also not be activated when passing by stationary vehicles, traffic lights, bus stops and so on.
With indirect vision systems, it’s recommended that drivers should regularly check and assess their equipment to ensure it is always fully operational. If you encounter issues with your equipment, it should be replaced.
Find out how to get compliant with the Direct Vision Standard (DVS)
Warn road users of intended manoeuvre
In addition to the elimination or reduction of blind spots, businesses must also ensure that their vehicles are equipped with the audible means and necessary signage that warns other road users that a manoeuvre is taking place. No vehicles are exempt from this requirement, which includes:
Audible vehicle manoeuvring warning
These audible warnings should be fitted to the vehicle to warn pedestrians and cyclists that a vehicle is turning left, and vice-versa for left-hand drive vehicles. It’s recommended that these audible warnings are between 65 and 88 decibels when measured at 1 metre from the sounding device, and that the noise is a combination of white noise and a verbal warning.
Operators should also fit visual warnings around the outside of the vehicle, including stickers and markings that are clearly visible to other road users. These visual warnings should be as simple as possible, with messages such as “Blind Spot: Take Care”, and shouldn’t be offensive or give advice to other road users.
It’s essential that these measures are taken so that other road users are aware of when a vehicle is turning, or manoeuvring. This will help prevent collisions where pedestrians or cyclists don’t hear a vehicle moving. Like the measures taken to improve direct vision, both audible and visual warnings throughout your vehicle should be regularly assessed to ensure that they’re in full working order.
Minimise the physical impact of a hazard
Finally, under the Direct Vision Standard (DVS), all vehicles should be fitted with Safe System measures that prevent the risk of under-run collisions with other road users. Full exemptions to this equipment include road sweepers and gully emptiers/suckers.
To minimise the risk, vehicles must be fitted with an appropriate side under-run protection. The requirement for this is sideguards, that should be fitted to both sides of the vehicle - unless this is impossible given the nature of the vehicle. These sideguards should also have the appropriate visual warnings, to alert users to the vehicle's movement.
Ensuring compliance with the Direct Vision Standard (DVS)
In order to comply with the DVS, you must achieve the minimum star rating of 1, meaning that if your vehicle achieves a 0 star rating, each Safe System measure we’ve described must be fitted to your vehicle(s).
How you choose to implement these measures is your decision; however, we know that deciding between retrofitting your old vehicles and simply purchasing new ones can be difficult. Not only this, but understanding what Safe System measures you need to implement is just the beginning.
That’s why we’re offering our free download: How to keep your business fleet compliant with the Direct Vision Standards (DVS). In this eBook, we discuss how to prepare your fleet for when the DVS comes into force in March 2021, including how it will affect your business, and whether retrofitting your existing fleet, or hiring new compliant vehicles is the best option to get you compliant.
With the DVS start date fast approaching and the prospect of a £550 fine for non compliance, you need to ensure your fleet is prepared. Don’t delay any longer, get your copy of our free download.