Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Truck Drivers Beware! London Will be a No Go Zone from March if You Don't Know the Rules

Direct Vision Standard Imposed and Will Trap the Unwary with Large Fines
Shipping News Feature

UK – Now would seem to be a good time to remind HGV drivers and operators alike that, amidst all the Covid and Brexit confusion, new regulations for London will shortly come into force which, if ignored, will lead to mandatory fines of hundreds of pounds.

The new regulations are at the behest of Sadiq Khan, as part of his Mayor of London's Vision Zero plan which aims to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on London's streets. A laudable and ambitious target but one which has met criticism from the road haulage community as it is misaligned from other regions and therefore liable to trap vehicles making occasional trips to the City and proscribe fair competition for transport contracts.

The facts however are that the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) scheme will commence as from 1 March 2021 and HGVs over 12 tonnes and not holding a permit, or in contravention of permit conditions, will be issued a £550 Penalty Charge Notice (reduced to £275 if paid within 14 days) for each day the vehicle is driven through the DVS area, which operates in the same area as the existing Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

The DVS uses a star rating system to rate HGVs based on how much a driver can see directly through their HGV cab windows, ranking from zero stars (lowest level of direct vision) to five stars (highest level of direct version). To qualify for a permit, HGVs will require a minimum of a one-star rating. Vehicles rated zero stars will only be granted a permit if they are fitted with 'safe system' measures.

With Transport for London admitting already that there may be delays in issuing the free permits it is advisable for anyone affected to put in their applications HERE immediately. The online application identifies the vehicle from the registration details. If a vehicle is considered zero star rated it is necessary for the operator to outfit the truck with the appropriate safety systems with full details of these shown HERE.

Transport for London requires the application to include photographs if it deems that standards are not met to prove that this is no longer the case. The requirements for each type of truck vary and for example a Zero rated lorry may need to have:

  • A Class V mirror fitted to the nearside of the vehicle
  • A Class VI mirror fitted to the front of the vehicle
  • Side under-run protection fitted to both sides of the vehicle (except where this is impractical or proves to be impossible)
  • External pictorial stickers and markings shall be displayed on vehicles to warn vulnerable road users of the hazards around the vehicle
  • A sensor system that alerts the driver to the presence of a vulnerable road user shall be fitted to the nearside of the vehicle
  • Audible vehicle manoeuvring warning shall be fitted to warn vulnerable road users when a vehicle is turning left
  • A fully operational camera monitoring system shall be fitted to the nearside of the vehicle

The DVS scheme will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year and it seems there will be no permissible grounds for appeal, something which will doubtless entrap any unwary drivers who discover the scheme too late.

Photo: One of the illustrations from the permit application pages which shows just how demanding the regulations can be (Editor’s note: Why does the illustrated figure have to be European and Female? Surely both racist and sexist in one fell swoop Mister Mayor?)