Clock Ticking on 3-Star HGV Vision Requirement

Opting to use telematics to manage fleet drivers’ behaviours comes with many benefits — reducing insurance premiums and vehicle downtime, providing a means to defend insurance claims and enhancing hazard awareness, being just some. However, sometimes telematics are also mandatory.

The Direct Vision Standard will be familiar to any HGV fleet manager operating vehicles over 12 tonnes within Greater London. The 2020 initiative aims at reducing the number of fatal collisions between HGVs and vulnerable road users, primarily cyclists and pedestrians, by tackling vehicle blind spots and encouraging the use of technological detection and alert systems.

Qualifying HGV fleet vehicles are rated according to drivers’ visibility through their cab windows. Originally, if vehicles met the criteria of one star, or fitted a Safe System, they were granted a safety permit. Given the success achieved, halving fatal collisions in which vision was a contributing factor (2018-2023) the criteria is now tightening.

As of 28 October 2024, HGVs will need to have a 3-star rating — something that will lead to an estimated 173,000 trucks needing to be updated. Any vehicle rated at 2 stars or under must provide evidence of satisfying the requirements of a Progressive Safe System (PSS). This places more attention on the detection of a vulnerable road user in front of the vehicle, with the ultimate goal of achieving zero deaths and serious injuries on London’s transport network by 2041.

1 or 2-star-rated vehicles must be registered, and evidence of an appointment to fit PSS equipment scheduled before 21 January 2025 must be submitted. In effect, this provides a three-month grace period in which to achieve compliance for both UK and overseas-registered vehicles. The Penalty Charge Notice fine for non-compliance is up to £550.

The new Progressive Safe System requires more vehicle telematics than the initial Safe System. Camera monitoring systems should now use both systems, eliminate any remaining blind spots and visually alert the driver to any approaching vulnerable road user.

Meanwhile, sensors must ensure full coverage down the nearside of rigid vehicles to detect pedestrians or cyclists. Sensors must not issue false alarms by reacting to street furniture or stationary vehicles. If a vehicle is articulated, sensors must be fitted to the front tractor unit. However, it is also recommended they be fitted to the trailer.

As most road users under 5’5” in height cannot be seen by an HGV driver when within two metres in front, Transport for London (TfL), the authority behind the Direct Vision Standard, wishes to ensure any cyclist or pedestrian is aware of an HGV driver’s intended manoeuvres. 6 HGVs will require audible vehicle manoeuvring warnings – something previously only stipulated for left-hand-drive vehicles.

HGVs also need to have Moving Off Information Sensors (MOIS) fitted to their front to prevent accidents when pulling away.

The message to HGV fleets is to ‘act now’, as the clock is ticking. Talk to your broker for telematics advice, even if your HGV fleet never ventures near London. Ultimately, this will reduce your risk, probably improve driver behaviour and typically lead to premium reductions.