Friday, June 12, 2020

Transport for London Direct Vision Standard for HGV's Called a 'Misjudgement'

Argument Over the Science of All Round Vision for Drivers
Shipping News Feature

UK – Having been criticised in the past for a constantly changing policy over the incoming Direct Vision Standards (DVS) to be applied to all goods vehicles over 12 tonnes which drive into Greater London from 26 October this year, TFL and the London Mayor have just received another broadside for 'misjudgement' of the science required.

The question arises as to which affords an HGV the best vision around all points of his or her vehicle. Whilst the authorities in London are placing the emphasis on direct vision, that is to say the use of mirrors and line of sight, many who have practical experience believe that cameras at strategic points, coupled with traditional mirrors, give an improved depth of information in the cab.

This attitude prevails amongst many overseas hauliers which are included in the new regulations when they visit the UK’s capital city. The balance between what a driver can see, and what he has time to react to, is a delicate one, a vast array of screens and mirrors can effect perfect visibility but may mean too much information and too little time to react to it.

One vested interest which has taken umbrage at the new legislation is Kent-based Brigade Electronics which says TfL has focused too much on Direct as opposed to Indirect Vision systems. TfL claims drivers using indirect vision have a slower response time than those using direct vision alone. However direct vision has its limitations, according to Brigade’s vehicle safety expert Emily Hardy, who says cameras, sensors and reversing alarms are vital tools to prevent accidents. She says:

“While direct vision is of course important, the TfL’s research is flawed and simplistic when it comes to technology, direct vision is not perfect because if you are not looking in the right place at the right time, you will not see the potential danger, and safety technology is more than just indirect vision. It includes passive and active systems that alert the driver to something in his blind spot, which encourages him to look. Meanwhile, cameras provide a wider angle of view than mirrors.

“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. HGV drivers need a combination of direct and indirect vision for optimal safety.”

HGVs that do not meet the minimum requirement of one star need to comply with the Safe System which requires the installation of extra devices for indirect vision (similar to FORS & CLOCS specifications). Complying with the Safe System will not alter the vehicle’s star rating but will permit you to drive into Greater London, however, by 2024 DVS minimum star requirements increases to three stars.

Many fleet operators and logistics businesses could fall foul of the star-rating regulations when one- and two-star rated vehicles are banned from October 2024 unless they are fitted with certain safety equipment. Brigade’s says its DVS star rating service, which is completely free of charge to use, will help fleet operators to avoid any confusion and quickly determine whether their vehicles are compliant and if any additional safety devices will need to be fitted.