Businesses operating heavy goods vehicles that are not yet compliant with the Direct Vision Standard (DVS), which comes into force from 1 March 2021, should consider using rental to avoid thousands of pounds in fines when they operate within the M25.
According to the experts at commercial vehicle rental specialist Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, businesses should examine how daily or flexible rental could offer a solution to ensure vehicles driving into Greater London are compliant in the short term. This is because of the cost of retrofitting their existing HGV fleets or of acquiring new vehicles.
DVS requires all vehicles over 12 tonnes, gross vehicle weight, to hold a registered HGV Safety Permit in order to enter or operate in the Greater London area. This measures how well HGV drivers can see directly through their cab windows, to indicate the risk level to ‘vulnerable road users’ such as cyclists and pedestrians close to the vehicle.
It rates each truck’s safety and visibility equipment from one star to five stars. Currently, Transport for London estimates that more than half of all UK HGVs fail to meet even the most basic one-star safety standard and would therefore face fines.
Enterprise predicts there is likely to be an influx of DVS Safety Permit applications in the coming weeks as the deadline approaches, making the registration process even longer and increasing the potential risk.
Furthermore, any replacement vehicles rented to cover a truck that is off the road due to maintenance, breakdowns or MOT updates will also need to be compliant with the DVS.
The DVS currently applies to London but could soon be expanded to other cities across the UK in the same way as Clean Air Zones. In addition, the DVS rules are going to tighten in 2024 and HGVs will then need at least a three-star rating to be compliant.
Danny Glynn, managing director of Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, comments: “The Direct Vision Standard affects every business that operates HGVs in the capital, from construction to home delivery to infrastructure. It is a defining piece of legislation for the UK commercial vehicle sector as we believe that it is very likely that it will be expanded to other cities sooner rather than later.
“Operators can retrofit their existing fleets, but this will increase costs and lead to downtime. We are advising businesses to think about how renting a DVS-compliant truck for use within Greater London, on daily hire or longer flexible rental terms, could be a cost-effective measure.
“With so much pressure on the commercial vehicle sector at present, committing large capital expenditure on new vehicles or retrofits may not be an option. On-demand, DVS-compliant rented HGVs may be a better solution.”
The fine for a non-compliant vehicle is £550 per day and Transport for London (TfL) will be operating Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras across the capital to check for any vehicles not registered.
Although most modern vehicles have mirrors fitted to aid visibility, registering for a DVS Safety Permit also requires trucks to have:
- External pictorial stickers and markings displayed on vehicles to warn vulnerable road users of the hazards around the vehicle
- A sensor system that alerts the driver to the presence of a vulnerable road user fitted to the nearside of the vehicle
- Audible vehicle manoeuvring warnings to warn vulnerable road users when a vehicle is turning left
- A fully operational camera monitoring system fitted to the nearside of the vehicle.
Businesses can retrofit their existing leased or owned truck fleets with the necessary equipment, but this can be costly and is time-consuming for large fleets, leading to periods of downtime.