London to raise DVS standards as new figures show fall in fatal collisions

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After the first year of Direct Vision Standard enforcement in London, the city has seen a reduction in fatal collisions where vision is cited as a contributing factor, according to the latest figures published by Transport for London. Tighter standards are now planned to be introduced from October 2024.

London to raise DVS standards as new figures show fall in fatal collisions
Photo credits @ Sam Saunders/ Flickr

Transport for London (TfL) has delivered “a radical improvement to road safety in the UK” with the introduction of the pioneering Direct Vision Standard (DVS), states the authority.

One year on, data shows that the lorry safety scheme, which reduces lethal blind spots, has helped to save lives and prevent life-changing injuries, with serious injuries down by 64 per cent compared to 2017.

In the first year of enforcement of DVS, 191,769 safety permits have been issued, including nearly 5,000 to 5-star vehicles, which provide the highest levels of direct vision and more than 112,000 0-star HGVs have now had safe systems fitted.

TfL’s DVS scheme requires owners of Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) weighing more than 12 tonnes to apply for a free safety permit that assigns vehicles a star rating based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab windows in order to be able to drive in London. The scheme operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and covers all roads in London.

The aim of the Direct Vision Standard is to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from London’s streets by 2041. HGVs accounted for just three per cent of the overall miles driven in London from 2018-20, yet were involved in nearly half (41 per cent) of fatal collisions involving people cycling and 19 per cent involving people walking. This means that HGVs are five times more likely to be involved in a collision resulting in a fatality relative to their share of traffic.

TfL says that collision severity involving HGVs has been falling, and this indicates that interventions undertaken by both the authority and the freight industry in recent years are already making a positive impact.

The overall number of serious injuries involving HGVs has fallen from 48 in 2017 to 17 in 2021.

The first year of enforcement of the DVS and the HGV safety permit scheme has also seen a reduction in fatal collisions where vision is cited as a contributing factor. In 2021, there were a total of 11 fatal collisions involving HGVs and people walking or cycling. Of these, six fatal collisions occurred where vision was cited as a contributing factor. This compared to eight in 2020 and nine in 2019 where vision was cited as a contributing factor. The majority (four of the six) of fatal collisions in 2021 involved 0-star rated vehicles demonstrating the enhanced value of direct vision over other safe system equipment.

Tighter standards to come in 2 years

TfL is aiming to introduce tighter standards from October 2024 when the minimum DVS star rating will be 3-stars. All HGVs below 3-stars will need to feature a progressive safe system that will take into account new and emerging technology or safety equipment that was not available during the design of the current safety system.

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