DVS scheme will ‘not achieve zero vehicular harm’

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With just three months until the first phase of the Direct Vision Standard begins, the Freight Transport Association is renewing its calls for the Mayor of London to realise the scheme is not the most effective way to achieve zero vehicular harm in the capital.

“The logistics sector is fully committed to improving road safety and takes its responsibility to do so very seriously,” Natalie Chapman, the FTA’s Head of Urban Policy, said.  “That’s why FTA is calling for the Mayor of London to realise that other strategies would deliver a far greater outcome."

“Technological development, along with internationally-agreed design standards and the retiming of deliveries to quieter periods, would provide a more robust and long-term safety solution than DVS alone; visibility from the cab should be viewed as just one aspect of holistic approach to road safety.”

Transport for London has developed a five-star rating system to determine the amount of direct vision a HGV has.  Those which meet the one-star rating will be automatically eligible for a permit, and therefore will be allowed to access into London.  Those which are zero-star rated will need to prove that they meet the requirements of the new “safe system” to obtain a permit.

Natalie Chapman continued: “While FTA is pleased to see TfL has listened to closely to our advice and has taken onboard many of our practical suggestions, we hope the team will adopt a more comprehensive range of measures to fast-track zero vehicular harm in the capital.  In the meantime, we urge logistics businesses to check the star rating of their vehicle fleets as soon as possible; the Safety Permit scheme opens in just three months.”

However, a study by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory and the Centre Européen d’Etudes de Sécurité et d’Analyse des Risques found that vehicle safety devices, such as sensors, were 50% more effective at reducing fatalities and injuries than modifying vehicle design.  The study also found that active safety measures drew the attention of the driver to the safety critical area and to vulnerable road users.

“Even with the best field of view in a low-entry cabin with glass side panels, the field of view can be obstructed by a passenger or bag on the seat,” said Emily Hardy from Brigade Electronics.  “A driver can only look in one direction at a time and might still fail to notice a cyclist or pedestrian on the other side of the vehicle.”

“To improve all-round visibility, fleet operators should consider a four-camera system connected to ultrasonic proximity sensors to alert the driver, via an on-screen display, when there is someone or something in a blind spot.  The system will also give an audible warning alarm when a cyclist moves into the danger zone.”