A Guide to Direct Vision Standard systems (DVS)​

What is the Direct Vision Standard system and how to make sure you are compliant.

The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and safety permit for heavy goods vehicles is now in effect. It requires operators of lorries of over 12 tonnes gross vehicle weight to obtain a safety permit before entering and operating across most of Greater London. Failure to do so could result in a Penalty Charge Notice.

In this brief guide to Direct Vision Standards, we will take a look at what DVS is and try to answer the question “do I require DVS?” and explore how you can ensure that you’re compliant.

What is the Direct Vision Standard?

HGVs famously have ‘blind spots’ in their vision. Even the most competent and careful of drivers can sometimes misjudge situations or miss sight of something moving through their blind spot. This can present real dangers for pedestrians and cyclists.

Many cyclists are at serious risk of injury and even death if they ride alongside the near-side of HGVs that are turning left. As HGV drivers sit much higher up than cyclists and drivers of smaller vehicles, the blind spot can mean they turn left or change lanes without noticing that by doing so they’re likely to cause a collision with another road user.

Direct Vision Standard is a concerted attempt to address this issue, reduce blind spots and make roads safe for all road users. By increasing driver visibility, the DVS will make close-proximity blind spot collisions much less likely. It will give drivers the tools they need to manoeuvre safely, reducing the risk of serious injury to vulnerable road users.

How does the Direct Vision Standard work?

The DVS provides an objective measurement of the driver’s field of vision through their cab mirrors and windows. It also calculates the size of the resulting bling spots. It then gives HGVs a star rating to grade HGVs.

This runs from zero (lowest grade) to five (highest grade). If you are driving a zero graded vehicle, you will have inferior direct vision and won’t be able to see the head and shoulders of a pedestrian who is less than 4.5m away from the cab side of the vehicle.

If you’re driving a five-star vehicle, it’s likely you’ll have good direct vision, and will be much better placed to see pedestrians, cyclists and motorists who are directly next to the cab side of the vehicle.

Page 9 of the Transport for London (TfL) HGV Safety Permit Guidance document provides an illustration of how the rating of a vehicle is calculated.

DVS star ratings should also be available from vehicle manufacturers.

From October 2020, to receive a Direct Vision Standard safety permit, all HGVs have been required to have a minimum of one star. This minimum requirement will increase to a three star rating from 2024.

What happens with zero-star rated vehicles?

Zero-star rated vehicles won’t be granted a permit unless they can meet ‘Safe System’ requirements outlined by DVS.

What does the Direct Vision Standard ‘Safe System’ require?

Safe System requirements include:

  • Cameras or class V or VI mirrors that eliminate blind spots around a vehicle.
  • A camera monitoring system. This should include an in-cab monitor that increases driver visibility, as well as side cameras.
  • To alert the driver to any vulnerable road users on their nearside, proximity sensors should be installed.
  • A clearly audible left-turn alarm to warn vulnerable road users when a vehicle is indicating left.
  • Side guards should be fitted to reduce the chance of serious injury to pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
  • Prominent warning signage to warn road users of any hazards around the vehicle.

What about left-hand drive vehicles?

All left-hand drive vehicles need to comply with the above requirements. The only modifications that are required are for safety components such as mirrors, cameras and sensors to be fitted appropriately so as to eliminate right-hand side blind spots. 

Who needs to become DVS compliant?

DVS compliance needs to be taken into account if you operate HGVs of 12 tonnes or over, you travel in or through London, and your fleet currently contains vehicles that are graded at zero stars. 

Whereas one to five star vehicles can apply for a Safety Permit to enter London without the need to provide further evidence, zero star HGVs over 12 tonnes gross vehicle weight will need a Safety System fitted to apply. 

If you attempt to enter Greater London without a safety permit you will be subject to a mandatory penalty.

What are the penalties for entering Greater London without a safety permit?

If you drive an HGV within most of Greater London without a valid permit you may receive a penalty charge notice (PCN) of up to £550 (reduced to £275 if paid within 14 days).

Why is the DVS needed?

The Direct Vision Standard was developed as part of the Vision Zero for London initiative set up by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Vision Zero is a global initiative that has seen cities around the world taking a stand to end the toll of deaths and injury seen on their roads and transport networks.

This is particularly necessary when it comes to cyclists. Between 2011 to 2016, nearly a quarter of all cyclist deaths across the UK were caused by collisions with HGVs. This is despite the fact that HGVs only make up 5% of the road traffic in Britain. The chances of a collision with a HGV causing a cyclist fatality are far higher than they are when colliding with a car. 5.7% of all cyclist/HGV collisions caused a fatality, compared with just 0.3% when colliding with a car.

These accidents are devastating for everyone involved. Not only is there the tragic loss of life and the heartache it causes the family, the driver who inadvertently caused the fatality has to live with the consequences. The business consequences for a company that was involved in an accident can also be considerable. Anything that can help prevent these tragic incidents from occurring is to be welcomed.

What is Vision Zero?

DVS forms a part of the Vision Zero initiative. This recognises that we have a shared responsibility for reducing road fatalities and serious accidents. Making roads safer for vulnerable users helps to reduce the amount of traffic on the road as people become more confident about cycling and walking rather than taking their car. 

Taking cars off the road in urban environments not only has road safety and environmental benefits, it’s also helpful for hauliers and other HGV operators as it frees up road space making deliveries more efficient. 

Vision Zero has a number of components of which DVS is one:

  • Safe speeds: Encouraging speeds appropriate to the streets of a busy and populated city through the widespread introduction of new lower speed limits
  • Safe streets: Designing an environment that is forgiving of mistakes by transforming junctions, which see the majority of collisions, and ensuring safety is at the forefront of all design schemes
  • Safe vehicles: Reducing risk posed by the most dangerous vehicles by introducing a world-leading Bus Safety Standard across London’s entire bus fleet and a new ‘Direct Vision Standard’ for Heavy Goods Vehicles
  • Safe behaviours: Reducing the likelihood of road users making mistakes or behaving in a way that is risky for themselves and other people through targeted enforcement, marketing campaigns, education programmes and safety training for cyclists, motorcycle and moped riders
  • Post-collision response: Developing systematic information sharing and learning, along with improving justice and care for the victims of traffic incidents

Will DVS go nationwide?

There is a strong likelihood that DVS will be rolled out in other cities if not nationwide over the coming years. With all levels of government committed to reducing carbon emissions any measure that can help reduce road risk and encourage people to cycle or walk is likely to look attractive. The success of the London scheme is likely to be closely monitored by local authorities and national governments. 

What do fleet managers need to consider?

The requirements for Direct Vision Standard ‘Safe System’ are identical to those for FORS Silver or CLOCS. So if your fleet currently meets the requirements for either of those standards then you can apply for safety permits. You should do this for each qualifying HGV in your fleet as soon as possible. 

That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing else you can do to enhance the safety aspects of your fleet even further. Remember, the DVS and other standards are a bare minimum designed to reduce risk. They are also likely to be strengthened over the coming years. 

By proactively looking at how you can utilise new safety technology to further enhance the safety of your fleet you are going some way to future-proofing your fleet against changes in the regulatory environment.

Needless to say, from a human and business perspective, doing all that you can to enhance the safety of your fleet, reduce accidents and minimise the risk of fatalities is to be encouraged. 

If your fleet isn’t currently complying with the relevant safety standards and you travel to or through Greater London then the safety of your zero-star vehicles will need to be upgraded with some urgency to satisfy the DVS ‘Safe System’.

What are the advantages for companies of DVS?

Ensuring your fleet meets the DVS requirements are essential if you’re to avoid expensive penalty charges. As well as the negative push to meet the requirements, there are a range of possible benefits for your company of doing so. 

Upgrading your fleet with a range of safety equipment that not only satisfies the DVS ‘Safe System’ requirements, but also goes beyond them, you can increase the efficiency of your operations. 

A proactive approach to driver and road user safety usually translates into a more profitable business. By improving the safety record of your fleet you’ll demonstrate that you’re a responsible employer and will give you an advantage over your competitors.

How might DVS develop?

Currently you only need one star to obtain a DVS safety permit. This is a temporary, introductory measure that gives hauliers and other HGV users the opportunity to adapt. As outlined above, this will run until October 2024 when the requirement will shift to three stars. 

As vehicles represent a considerable investment and have a life-cycle longer than five years, any vehicles being purchased now should be rated a minimum of three stars to ensure compliance with DVS both now and after 2024. It makes sense to install the required safety equipment into any new vehicles now rather than having to do it prior to the regulations changing. 

Changes to the available technology will be taken into account in 2024. This means that your fleet will need to be ready with the ‘Progressive Safe System’ from 2024 onwards in order to obtain a DVS permit.

Amber Valley supply a range of Direct Vision Standard safety systems

Amber Valley Developments LLP is an international specialist manufacturer of vehicle safety equipment. We develop and manufacture products which are designed to not only meet but exceed the strict safety requirements of our valuable customers around the world. 

With this in mind we’ve created a range of Direct Vision Standard safety systems to satisfy the safety standards required. 

All of our kits include:

  • Blind spot take car labels
  • Sensor systems with buzzers
  • Side and Rear camera systems
  • Left turn talking alarm

These are the minimum range of safety devices required for your vehicle to meet the DVS safety standards and can be obtained by purchasing our budget kits. If your budget stretches a little further, our standard and superior kits give you extra safety measures helping to enhance the safety of your fleet even further. They also offer ‘plug in and play’ simplicity making them easy to set up and use. 

By proactively investing in fleet safety you can anticipate a toughening up of the regulatory environment, reduce insurance premiums and minimise the risk of accidents happening.

Take a look at our range and get in touch if you have any questions about DVS and how to ensure your fleet complies. 

AVDVSS2 Direct Vision Standard TfL DVS System Superior Kit
Amber Valley's Direct Vision Standards Superior Kit