Various concerns are being raised regarding the challenges faced by fleets in adapting to new safety standards for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs). One of those raising concerns is Steve MacDonald, the founder of SM UK, a specialist in commercial fleet safety. He feels that the commercial fleet industry requires additional time to implement safety enhancements for HGVs before the new direct vision regulations come into effect.
Some Vital Components Not Ready Until January
Starting from October 28, 2024, all HGVs entering Greater London must meet a three-star safety rating. Vehicles not meeting the new Direct Vision Standard (DVS) will need to install the Progressive Safe System (PSS) to obtain a permit from Transport for London (TfL).
While this might sound reasonable, it turns out that some of the necessary equipment will only become available in January. When combined with the advanced nature of the technology, MacDonald argues that installers need specialised training to fit the vehicles and ensure compliance with TfL standards properly, and that cannot happen overnight.
Nearly 2500 Vehicles Want the New System
MacDonald says that there have already been over 2,430 reservations for the new system since the announcement of the regulations. He goes on to emphasise that the industry requires more time to install these safety kits on the numerous trucks needing them to operate legally in the designated London area.
If the vehicles are not ready by the deadline, there is a potential scenario where fleet managers might face fines or entry restrictions for their vehicles in London if they lack the necessary permit. He is concerned that the risk of installing equipment could become unfit for purpose if the work is being carried out by technicians lacking the required skill level. In turn, this casts a broader net of concern, jeopardising the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and car drivers. The fact remains that HGV drivers operating below the three-star rating face blind spots and safety systems incapable of detecting pedestrians and cyclists on the left side or when crossing in front of the vehicles; rushing the new rollout could make the problem worse and certainly not improve the situation.
While MacDonald acknowledges the positive impact of the DVS and PSS regulations on overall safety, he, like others in the industry, urges TfL to extend the compliance deadline. This extension would provide operators with reasonable time to implement technological safety upgrades and conduct driver training. He is not alone in his concerns. Duncan Webb, the AA's fleet director, voiced similar concerns in a recent Fleet News at 10 webinar, highlighting the challenge of complying with rules confirmed only a couple of months ago, especially given the significant number of trucks entering and leaving London within a 12-month window.