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TfL's driver vision scheme leaves questions unanswered

Jacqueline O'Donovan

Transport for London has released interim direct vision star ratings for Euro VI heavy goods vehicles as part of the development of its Direct Vision Standard (DVS), an initiative designed to categorise HGVs based on the level of a driver’s direct vision from the cab.

I welcome TfL’s announcement, as we had been debating a scheme rating vision from zero to five stars – but with no knowledge of what it would look like.

The importance of safety has to be addressed and the inclusion of direct vision is of course part of that. However, is placing the onus solely on the logistics operators rather than encouraging all road users to take responsibility for safety a recipe for success? I think not.

The other side 

I believe I speak for all SMEs in the construction logistics industry when I say there are two sides to every story, which is not currently being demonstrated. Where is the evidence that a different shape or height vehicle is going to make other road users safer? Will all this confusion just cause vulnerable road users to become more confused?

Is this latest directive simply finger pointing? What facts and figures have we been given to prove the root cause and show that star-rated vehicles are safer? And if they are, what is the difference in safety levels between each of the star ratings?

What makes the situation even harder for companies like O’Donovan to deal with is the fact that the DVS is not aligned with the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, meaning we are unable to make decisions about which vehicles to buy.

Welcome move

Manufacturers don’t – or won’t – say ‘our model X is equal to Y star rating’, so this announcement at least means we can now start looking at different makes and models to buy in line with our 10-year renewal plan policy.

“The HGV safety permit scheme only brings more administration to an industry that is already overburdened with regulation”

As for the HGV safety permit scheme (based on the DVS ratings), this only brings more administration to an industry that is already overburdened with regulations.

I agree vehicles should be categorised with a star rating when purchased, or similar to the LEZ database we use, but only special types should be required to go through the permit process.

That being said, I appreciate that the DVS is going out to further consultation – but would like to see the outcomes form part of a more joined-up approach to ensure our roads are safe for all.

Jacqueline O’Donovan is managing director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal

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