Thursday, August 13, 2020

Direct Vision Standard for HGVs in London May be Delayed - But Still May Cost Road Hauliers Dear

Star Rating Postponement Can Not Avoid Possible Problems for Truckers
Shipping News Feature

UK – London Mayor Sadiq Khan's drive to improve road accident statistics by insisting on better visibility from large road haulage vehicles has been accused of being ill thought out before. The Mayor's proposals have changed over time, something which has cost hauliers as more restrictions are imposed.

One of the main complaints from logistics industry groups is the inability to pay attention to several different points of potential danger for other road users and pedestrians whilst manoeuvring a large vehicle through the city streets.

No matter - the regulations are in place and were due to come into effect from 26 October 2020 when all goods vehicles over 12 tonnes would have required a permit to drive into Greater London under the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for which they are awarded a star rating which indicates what the authorities deem is the quality of visibility from the cab.

All this of course was thrown into confusion when Covid-19 hit town, enforcement will now be introduced from March 2021 at the earliest because of the upheaval caused by the coronavirus epidemic. So no need to worry about star ratings then? Not so.

A flaw has been pointed out in this thinking by Emily Hardy, of Kent-based Brigade Electronics, which make all round visibility aids for such vehicles. She says compliance with the new regulations by October is still mandatory and, in the event of an accident or insurance claim, it could render the driver/operator liable as the vehicle could be considered not fully compliant. She goes on:

“Simply put, delaying the fines is not the same as changing the date of the legislation. This lack of clarity from TfL misleads the public into thinking they are free of risk in the event of a collision until next year. With just months to go, operators must act sooner rather than later.”

Obviously Brigade has vested interests in promoting its own products, however the other argument which the company makes is one that has been a source of controversy since the regulations were announced. Is a direct line of sight better than an all-encompassing camera view which can reach spots no mirror can?

TfL claims drivers using indirect vision have a slower response time, resulting in an increased incidence of simulated pedestrian collisions. However direct vision also has its limitations, according to Brigade’s founder and chairman Chris Hanson-Abbot OBE. He says cameras, sensors and reversing alarms are vital tools to prevent accidents, claiming:

“TfL’s research is flawed and simplistic when it comes to technology. No one is doubting the importance of direct vision, but it relies on the driver looking in the right place at the right time to see the potential danger. Safety technology is more than just indirect vision. It includes passive and active systems that alert the driver to something in their blind spot, which encourages them to look.

“The TfL guidelines create an impression that if you have direct vision you don’t need to fit sensors and other tech. This is a backwards step and diminishes the good work of schemes like CLOCS and FORS that have raised industry standards.”

Brigade, which can claim to have been at the forefront of the vehicle safety market since 1976 when it introduced the reversing alarm into the UK, is urging operators to meet the original deadline, or at least conduct a risk assessment.