Everything you need to know about the Direct Vision Standard
The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for heavy goods vehicles over 12 tonnes comes into force in March 2021, and it means that if you currently own one or more of these vehicles, you’ll need a safety permit in order to operate within the Greater London area.
For businesses who are currently trying to educate themselves on the DVS, and the repercussions for not complying, trying to have everything you need to be prepared by March can be a challenge. However, it doesn’t need to be.
We’ve outlined everything you need to know about the Direct Vision Standard (DVS), from why it’s being introduced to how you can apply for a permit, and what to do if your vehicle doesn’t meet the minimum star rating - to help keep you compliant, and your vehicles on the road.
Direct Vision Standard - 2023 Updates
Spring 2023 Update: From October 2024, the minimum DVS rating for HGVs entering and operating in Greater London moves from one star to three stars. Vehicles that have a two star rating or lower must fit the Progressive Safe System (PSS) and provide proof of this to obtain a permit.
The PSS develops on the 2019 Safe System. Transport for London spent February to April consulting the public on ways to improve the DVS. They will then formulate their proposals and submit them to London Council’s Transport and Environment Committee, who manage the HGV Safety Permit Scheme.
A few things they consulted on include:
- Improving indirect vision
- Warning vulnerable road users of intended manoeuvres
- Minimising physical impact of a hazard
- Improving the scheme application process for operators
The meeting will take place on 8 June 2023.
What is the Direct Vision Standard (DVS)?
Developed as a part of the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero for London scheme, the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) measures how well HGV drivers can see directly through their cab windows, to indicate the risk level to “vulnerable road users” such as cyclists and pedestrians close to the vehicle. It requires all lorries over 12 tonnes to have a safety permit for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in order to operate in the Greater London area.
From March 2021 (at the earliest), all vehicle operators will need to have this safety permit, or risk a £550 fine each time you’re found to be non-compliant. The DVS will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will be monitored and recorded on ANPR cameras that will digitally capture the license plate registration of each vehicle operating throughout Greater London and instantly check them against a database of records, where the vehicle will then be issued with a £550 fine.
This means that businesses need to begin preparing for March as soon as possible: to get all their vehicles submitted for a safety permit, receive the minimum star rating and ensure their vehicles have the necessary “safety system” measures if required.
Watch our video update from Enterprise Flex-E-Rent Managing Director, Danny Glynn to find out how we're helping businesses assess the impact of DVS on their current and future fleet requirements.
Direct Vision Standard Star Rating
The Direct Vision Standard gives all vehicles over 12 tonnes a star rating, measured by how well the driver can see through their windows. This star rating system ranges from 0 to 5, with 5 being excellent direct vision, and 0 being very poor direct vision.
If you receive a star rating of zero, you need to add specific Safe System improvements to any of your vehicles that aren’t compliant. This means that all businesses operating with vehicles over 12 tonnes in the Greater London area need to ensure that their vehicles meet the minimum star rating before March - particularly if you have a fleet. It’s also important to note that in 2024, the minimum star rating will be raised to three, meaning that while you could be compliant now, you also need to have plans in place for the future.
Find out more about the DVS requirements in our blog - What Safe System measures are required for zero star vehicles under the Direct Vision Standard (DVS)?
How do I check my vehicle's rating?
Under the DVS system, all vehicles will obtain a star rating. Every vehicle must meet a minimum of one star, unless exempt from the scheme.
In order to get your vehicle’s star rating, you need to contact the manufacturer and request an assessment of DVS star rating, or enquire about the ratings of any new vehicles. To do this, you’ll need to provide the vehicle’s chassis number (VIN), and your manufacturer will be able to calculate the rating. Then, they should inform both you and TfL of the rating, upon which you can submit the vehicle for a safety permit if it meets the minimum requirements.
You can apply for a safety permit on the Transport for London (TFL) website, and fleet operators can apply for 5 to 3,000 vehicles at one time through a multi permit application. If you have a one to five star rating, an electronic permit will be granted.
However, if you receive a star rating of zero from your manufacturer, then it’s your responsibility to get the vehicle(s) up to standard through the addition of safety features known as Safe System improvements. Then, to submit your application, you will have to upload photos of your Safe System equipment. Your application will then be reviewed and accepted (you'll get your safety permit), or rejected (you'll need to re-apply).
What are Safe System Improvements?
Safe System improvements are features that can be retrofitted to vehicles in order to raise the DVS star rating to the acceptable standard and ensure that drivers can see directly out of their windows.
However, if you need to add Safe System improvements to your vehicles, retrofitting can be a fairly laborious process - especially if you need to register an entire fleet for permits. Retrofitting your existing vehicles also means that they will need to be taken off the road, which often isn’t an option for smaller organisations as it can lead to considerable downtime.
According to TfL, Safe System measures have three key aims:
- To improve indirect vision.
- To warn road users of intended manoeuvres.
- To minimise the physical impact of any hazards.
With this in mind, TfL has also published the 7 key requirements your vehicle will need in order to meet the minimum star rating, and qualify for a permit.
Generally, most vehicles manufactured in the past decade will already have the following 3 safety measures installed as standard:
- Class V mirror on the nearside of the vehicle
- Class VI mirror on the front of the vehicle
- Side under-run protection on both sides of the vehicle (except where this is impractical, or cannot be done)
However, your vehicles will also have to have the following 4 measures fitted to be compliant with the Direct Vision Standard:
External pictorial stickers and markings on vehicles to warn vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists) of any hazards around the vehicle.
A sensor system that alerts the driver to the presence of a vulnerable road user on the nearside of the vehicle.
Audible vehicle manoeuvring warning.
A fully operational camera monitoring system on the nearside of the vehicle.
Your vehicle(s) will need to have these seven listed safety measures fitted, so you must decide how you will go about ensuring your vehicle has them.
What are the alternatives?
First of all, it’s important to note that when it comes to compliance with the DVS - there is no alternative.
At £550 per fine, not complying is not only bad practice but extremely expensive. On top of this, given the emphasis on improving safety in London, it’s likely that other major cities will soon follow suit; we saw this happen with the extension of ULEZ, and much like eco-awareness, road safety is becoming an increasingly dominant issue, and it’s likely the Direct Vision Standard could extend out of London and beyond.
This means now more than ever, you need to be future-proofing your fleet.
Retrofitting your vehicles to comply is an option - but can be very labour-intensive, so it could be worth looking into alternative methods. One method that will ensure your business is ready for the DVS and onwards is through flexible vehicle hire.
The benefits of hiring your vehicles are clear. Hiring a fleet of DVS-compliant vehicles is not only a less laborious and more cost-effective process, but it also ensures that your vehicles are future-proof for years to come - giving you the freedom to operate in London and beyond, without the worry of being fined.