Everything You Need To Know About the Direct Vision Standard

Glen Mullins (Director of VUE) talks about six vital things you need to know about the Direct Vision Standard and how it will affect you as an insurer or fleet manager.

From 26 October 2020, all HGVs over 12 tonnes will need a Direct Vision Standard safety permit to enter or operate in the Greater London area.

You’ve had three years to prepare for this deadline. Are you ready? Have you checked the Direct Vision Standard star rating of your HGVs? Have you fitted them with the necessary ‘Safe Systems’ to meet DVS requirements?

If you’re double checking your Direct Vision Standard compliance as a fleet manager or are generally curious about DVS as an insurer, then you’ve come to the right place. In anticipation of this October 2020 deadline, I’m talking about six vital things you need to know about the DVS: what it entails, why it’s being enforced, what it means for fleet managers and insurers, and how you can plan for tightening DVS requirements in 2024.

Watch the video for an overview or read below for more details. So get reading!

1. What is the Direct Vision Standard?

The Direct Vision Standard was designed to eliminate blind spots from HGVs and reduce their risk to cyclists and pedestrians. Many cyclists are at risk of serious injury or worse when they ride next to the near-side (passenger side) of HGVs that are turning left. As drivers of HGVs are higher up than drivers of smaller vehicles, they can be unable to see a cyclist on their near-side and accidentally turn left or change lanes into them.

As an avid cyclist myself, I fully support the Direct Vision Standard and believe that it will increase the general safety of British fleets and roads. By increasing driver visibility, the Direct Vision Standard will reduce the risk of close-proximity blind spot collisions, equip drivers with the tools they need to manoeuvre safely and stop injuries to vulnerable road users.This will prevent numerous accidents and save many drivers and road users from the trauma of horrific collisions.

The Direct Vision Standard objectively measures how much a driver can see through their cab windows and mirrors, and how big the resulting blind spots are. It uses a star rating to grade HGVs from zero (lowest) to five (highest). Drivers in a zero-star vehicle will have poor direct vision and will not be able to see the head and shoulders of a pedestrian who is less than 4.5m away from the cab side. Drivers in a five-star vehicle will have good direct vision and will be able to see pedestrians, motorists and cyclists who are directly next to the cab side of their vehicles.

There’s a great diagram on page nine of the Transport for London’s (TfL) ‘HGV Safety Permit Guidance’ document which shows how the star ratings are determined.

Direct Vision Standard HGV Truck

TfL. July 2019. HGV Safety Permit Guidance [Online. Accessed 26th Sept 2019]

DVS star ratings are available from vehicle manufacturers. You should check the star ratings for your HGVs now to see if you need to take any action and implement a ‘Safe System’.

From October 2020, all HGVs will require a minimum of one star to be granted a Direct Vision Standard safety permit. In 2024, the minimum star rating will be raised to three. Zero-star vehicles will not be granted a permit unless they meet ‘Safe System’ requirements outlined by DVS. The DVS ‘Safe System’ is essentially the same as the Vehicle Safety Equipment requirements S6 (see page 51) from the FORS Silver accreditation.

The DVS ‘Safe System’ is essentially the same as the Vehicle Safety Equipment requirements S6 from the FORS Silver accreditation.

The Direct Vision Standard ‘Safe System’ includes:

  • Class V and VI mirrors or cameras that eliminate blind spots around a vehicle
  • A camera monitoring system including side cameras and an in-cab monitor that increase driver visibility
  • Near-side proximity sensors with a driver alert that warn drivers of any vulnerable road users on their near-side
  • A left-turn audible alarm that warns vulnerable road users when a vehicle indicates left
  • Sideguards to reduce the chance of injury to cyclists and pedestrians
  • Warning signage to warn road users of the hazards around the vehicle

To satisfy the FORS Silver S6 requirements, your HGVs will need to feature the equipment required for the DVS ‘Safe System’ above as well as:

  • A reverse alarm to alert vulnerable road users of a reversing manoeuvre if this isn’t already built into the vehicle
  • A reverse camera to give the driver a full rear view of their vehicle (if your HGV is over 7.5 tonnes)
Direct Vision Standard Safe System

This safety equipment satisfies the minimum requirements needed for DVS and the FORS Silver S6. However, I highly recommend that you go above the minimum standard and maximise the safety and efficiency of your fleetby fitting your vehicles with at least a 3G video telematics recorder. It’s always important to look at the type of accidents your fleet are experiencing and see what equipment will mitigate them, so you can show ROI. You can look at the VUEconnected range for some ideas of what more you can include as you upgrade your fleet.

Here’s our comparison of how requirements for the Direct Vision Standard and FORS Silver / CLOCS compare. Just as FORS recommends, we always suggest that you go above the minimum standard with a 3G connected recorder and a forward-facing camera.

DVS and FORS Comparison

You can apply for a Direct Vision Standard permit from 28 October 2019, and I suggest you do so quickly to avoid any last minute rush. Think of it like preparing your passport for a trip – you wouldn’t try to renew it four days before you left for the airport, would you? As you’ll need time to get your rating and potentially install your ‘Safety System’, it’s best that you sort this out as soon as possible.

Remember, if any of your HGVs don’t have a DVS permit from 26 October 2020, then they won’t be able to operate in Greater London.

2. The Bigger Safety Picture

The Direct Vision Standard was developed by the Mayor of London (Sadiq Khan) as part of his Vision Zero initiative that aims to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries caused by road collisions from London by 2041.

It’s an initiative that I respect very much, because it recognises that road trauma causes unimaginable devastation.

Between 2011 to 2016, 23% of all cyclist deaths across the UK were due to collisions with HGVs, even though HGVs make up only 5% of traffic in Britain. Cyclists were also much more likely to die from a collision with a larger vehicle than a smaller one. 5.7% of all cyclists died when colliding with a HGV whereas only 0.3% of all cyclists died when colliding with a car.

If you’re frustrated with the Direct Vision Standard, I encourage you to watch the stories of five road trauma victims from the TfL’s new campaign ‘Know My Name’. One man, Geoff, lost his wife of 45 years in 2012 when she was knocked off her bike and run over by a construction lorry.

If you need a strong business case for upgrading your fleet’s safety equipment, then consider how a collision could affect your drivers and colleagues too. One of the ‘Know My Name’ stories features a driver who killed a cyclist in a road traffic accident. That one event has affected her entire life, and she’s since been plagued with severe guilt that has kept her awake for many days and nights. Imagine if that was someone in your team.

A collision devastates many lives – victims, loved ones, witnesses, emergency services, but drivers, passengers and work colleagues too.

That’s why I’m completely behind the DVS and other safety schemes such as FORS and CLOCS. I believe that all fleets should aspire to be as safe as possible for the sake of everyone on the road. If you could support a scheme that reduces the chance of accidents happening, then why wouldn’t you?

3. The Direct Vision Standard for Fleet Managers

If your fleet is already compliant with FORS Silver or CLOCS, then your safety equipment meets the requirements of the Direct Vision Standard ‘Safe System’. You should apply for a DVS permit for each HGV as soon as possible, but also consider refreshing your vehicles with the latest technology to further enhance their safety.

If your fleet isn’t compliant with any other safety standards, then you’ll need to upgrade your zero-star vehicles to satisfy the DVS ‘Safe System’. But you can also use this opportunity to complete two tasks in one.

As the DVS ‘Safe System’ is essentially the same as the FORS Silver S6 safety requirements, you can upgrade your fleet with equipment that complies with both standards and start to become FORS silver compliant too. Improving your compliance ratings across the board will increase the general safety of your fleet and demonstrate that you’re a responsible employer. It’ll hopefully give you more opportunities too, as many companies now specify that their suppliers must satisfy safety schemes such as FORS or CLOCS.

Mostly importantly, you should really take the Direct Vision Standard as an opportunity to improve your fleet. The DVS doesn’t have to be a spend-to-comply exercise that’s an additional cost to your business. By upgrading your fleet with a range of safety equipment that satisfies both the DVS ‘Safe System’ and goes beyond it (such as with video telematics equipment), you can demonstrate a significant ROI and increase both efficiency and profitability for your fleet.

Just have a look at some of our case studies – Triplex Traffic Management saw a significant decrease to no own-fault incidents reported. North East Ambulance Service also saw its accident rates drop significantly. JLA now use accident footage to manage their insurance claims daily and train their fleet.

4. The Direct Vision Standard for Insurers

The Direct Vision Standard can also benefit insurers. Increased driver visibility will help fleets decrease the likelihood of accidents and greatly reduce risk. I actually think that Britain’s roads would be a lot safer if all fleets complied with the DVS outside of London. So, I’ll take it a step further.

As a bare minimum benchmark for safety, I believe that all insurers should require their fleets to satisfy DVS requirements in their policies.

If they’d like to increase the ease of disputing claims, they should also require video telematics equipment.

Fleets that comply with the Direct Vision Standard and FORS Silver demonstrate that they take road safety seriously and are providing their drivers with the best possible tools to decrease the risk of accidents. These companies will make for better insurance policy clients and will likely save you a lot of money in the long run.

5. Choosing a 2020 DVS ‘Safe System’ Supplier

If you need to satisfy the Direct Vision Standard ‘Safe System’ or S6 FORS Silver requirements, then VUE can help. We’ve been providing industry-leading safety technology to fleets for years, and our VUEconnected range will help you become compliant across a range of safety schemes.

Our range will help you meet the DVS ‘Safe System’ and includes:

Our range will also help you meet the S6 FORS Silver safety requirements, which need the DVS equipment above along with:

6. The Future of the Direct Vision Standard

Although you only need one star to obtain a DVS safety permit in 2020, this will rise to three stars in October 2024. As vehicles often operate on a greater than five-year lifecycle, any HGV’s bought in 2020 and beyond will probably need to be rated a minimum of three stars during their lifetime.  It’s much easier all round to install safety equipment into a new vehicle before it joins your fleet.

When the Direct Vision Standard ‘Safe System’ is tightened in 2024, it will consider any safety technology and equipment that was not available in 2020. Zero to two star rated vehicles will need to be fitted with this new ‘Progressive Safe System’ from 2024 onwards in order to obtain a DVS permit.

We’re extremely passionate about helping fleets improve their safety and compliance ratings at VUE. Our equipment is industry-leading for a reason, and we’re already helping fleets plan ahead for 2024. Whatever the future holds, we’ll be there at the forefront.

Our equipment will help your fleet meet the Direct Vision Standard ‘Safe System’ requirements today and the ‘Progressive Safe System’ requirements in 2024 as our technology develops. Our VUEconnected range is also designed to be flexible and include additional safety equipment that will help you reach different levels of compliance with FORS and CLOCS.

So, if you’d like to make a long-standing investment in safety as the Direct Vision Standard is enforced in 2020, or want to generally improve your compliance ratings, then VUE is here to help you make London and Britain’s roads a safer place.

This article was originally published on Glen Mullins’ LinkedIn.