The Direct Vision Standard

The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) is the world’s first standard for direct vision for HGVs.

Developed in consultation with an expert panel of researchers, academics and representatives from the freight industry, Europe’s foremost HGV manufacturers and regulatory bodies, the DVS, along with the DVS safety permit scheme, will help to reduce deaths and serious accidents involving HGVs on London’s roads by eliminating blind spots and improving driver visibility.

A useful video is available here from TfL which clearly explains the Direct Vision Standard.

The exact area that is covered by the Direct Vision Standard can be seen here.

Why was the Direct Vision Standard developed?

The DVS was developed in response to the fact that HGV drivers tend to sit far higher in a vehicle and may not see other road users who are lower down particularly on their left-hand (or near) side.

Unfortunately HGV drivers have been known to change lanes or tried to turn left unaware of other road users, causing serious accidents and even deaths.

The DVS requires that all vehicles over 12 tonnes GVW that wish to operate on London’s road network hold a valid DVS safety permit based on the vehicle’s star rating to avoid receiving a penalty charge notice (PCN).

HGVs must undergo an inspection to ascertain how much a driver can see from the cab windows and mirrors. Any resulting blind spots must be measured and a star rating awarded to indicate the level of visibility the vehicle has, ranging from zero stars to five stars.

Introduced by Transport for London (TfL) in October 2020, enforcement of the DVS was delayed until March 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic to give businesses more time to meet the new requirements.

It is hoped that all deaths and serious injuries caused by road collisions in London will be eliminated by 2041.

Full information on the Direct Vision Standard can be found here.

What is the Direct Vision Standard Star Rating system?

Developed in response to the high rate of collisions in London involving pedestrians, cyclists and HGVs, the Direct Vision Standard Star Rating system identifies a vehicle’s visibility and rates it from zero stars to five stars.

Vehicles that achieve a rating of at least one star will be able to apply for a DVS safety permit from TfL.

The higher the star rating awarded to a vehicle, the better the driver’s visibility, which reduces the risk of close-proximity blind spot collisions, so that drivers have the means they need to safely manoeuvre vehicles and prevent injuries to vulnerable road users.

At the time of writing all vehicles over 12 tonnes wishing to use London’s roads must have a minimum rating of one star and above to be granted a DVS safety permit. This requirement will be raised to three stars in 2024.

A zero-star rated vehicle will have poor driver visibility and will be unable to see a pedestrian standing less than 4.5m away from the side of the cab.

A five-star vehicle will have good direct vision and will be able to see pedestrians, motorists and cyclists who are directly next to the cab side of the vehicle.

If a vehicle is rated as zero-star it will not be granted a permit unless it meets the Direct Vision Standard “Safe System” which is explained in more detail here.

How do I find out the Star Rating of my vehicle?

Transport for London (TfL) continues to work alongside vehicle manufacturers to assign star ratings to their vehicles. If you don’t already know the star rating of your vehicle you should contact TfL to see if we hold rating information in the first instance or if we don’t have that information, then your vehicle manufacturer.

You must check the star rating of your HGVs and take action if necessary to ensure you are compliant and can drive within the DVS zone.

How can I improve the DVS Star Rating of my vehicle?

Whether your vehicle is rated as zero star or five stars under the Direct Vision Standard it is always good practice to review the compliance of your vehicles to benefit your status as a responsible employer alongside the obvious safety benefits.

MHF (UK) Ltd offers a comprehensive fitting service to customers to ensure that vehicles meet the requirements of the Direct Vision Standard star rating, Our team would be pleased to discuss your vehicle’s star rating and talk through the range of components that we can fit to enhance its safety.

For vehicles rated as zero stars a number of mitigating safety features should be fitted to your vehicle. These features will enable your vehicle to achieve “Safe System” status. They will allow you to apply for a HGV safety permit and include:

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

It is worth noting that the requirements for the DVS Safe System are much the same as the Vehicle Safety Equipment requirements S6 from the FORS Silver accreditation.

What is the DVS safety permit and how do I get one?

The DVS safety permit must be held by a vehicle if it is to use the majority of the roads in Greater London. The scheme operates and is enforced 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

All DVS safety permits must be applied for direct from Transport for London – you can follow this link to apply now.

Permit duration

Zero star-rated vehicles with an approved Safe System will be granted a permit until 2024.

One and two star-rated vehicles will be granted permits until 2024.

Three, four and five star-rated vehicles will be granted a 10-year permit.

Permits are free of charge. Providing a vehicle holds a star rating of at least one star and weighs more than 12 tonnes, an application for a single or multiple vehicles can be made here.

Vehicles caught without a DVS safety permit will receive a fine of £550. This may be reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days. Transport for London may revoke or suspend a permit if a vehicle is found to be in breach of permit conditions at a later inspection.

Recommended action from MHF (UK) Ltd

Whatever the DVS star rating of your vehicle and whether it is driven around London or not, MHF (UK) Ltd recommends that operators upgrade their vehicles and voluntarily fit them with supplementary safety features to reduce any risk of accidents caused by HGVs to people walking and cycling.

Additional equipment that can be fitted to vehicles includes:

  • · Forward facing HD camera
  • · Infra-red off-side camera
  • · Video telematics recorder
  • · Live viewing
  • · Remote footage retrieval

It is recognised that the Direct Vision Standard has the potential to be rolled out as a national or even international standard as the issues it addresses affect all roads and road users equally.

If you think that your vehicle could benefit from the installation of supplementary safety features contact MHF (UK) Ltd to discuss your vehicle the benefits of maximising your drivers’ visibility and road safety.

Useful links

Direct Vision Standard Tfl video

Direct Vision Standard Tfl map

Direct Vision Standard full information

DVS Safety Permit Application