Direct Vision Standard stalling purchase of cleaner HGVs in London, says FTA

The FTA has accused London mayor Sadiq Khan of scoring “a spectacular own goal” in his plans to clean up the capital’s air quality, due to the confusion over the Direct Vision Standard (DVS).

The trade association said the length of time it is taking to finalise the qualification levels for the DVS, alongside an unrealistic schedule for its implementation, is causing frustration and confusion for operators.

It believes they are being forced to postpone acquiring new Euro-6 vehicles because they may not be eligible for use in London in the years ahead.

Natalie Chapman, FTA head of urban policy, said: “The mayor has scored a spectacular own goal with DVS.

"FTA, along with everyone living and working in London, wants to see an improvement in the city’s air quality, but this could have happened faster if the new DVS had been better planned.”

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The FTA is calling on TfL to rethink its plans for DVS and coordinate its implementation with the tightening up of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2020, to give logistics operators a chance to plan their fleets properly.

It has set out these points in its submission to TfL’s phase 2 consultation on the DVS scheme, which closed on 24 January. It also provided evidence that operators are delaying procurement of the Euro-6 vehicles, because they have” no idea whether they’ll meet the requirements of the DVS”.

According to figures from the SMMT, new UK truck registrations in the third quarter 2017 were down 5.7% on the same period the previous year, which the FTA attributes, in part, to uncertainty of DVS, the ULEZ and clean air zones across the UK.

“FTA members support Sadiq Khan’s aspiration to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by HGVs on London’s roads, but any road safety scheme involving new vehicles needs to be carefully planned to avoid disrupting supplies to the capital and requires the support and cooperation of all road users,” said Chapman.

In TfL's response to commonly raised issues in the first round of the consultation, published online in November 2017, it states regarding the alignment of DVS and the ULEZ rollout:

"We’re working to align the DVS and the ULEZ schemes. HGV operators considering upgrading their fleets to meet the ULEZ emission standards should consider vehicles with a high DVS star rating. Where this is not possible for operational or other reasons, or if a vehicle has already been purchased for ULEZ compliance, we anticipate that most, if not all, will be able to retrofit their vehicle to improve the level of overall safety."

Responding to MT, Christina Calderato, head of delivery planning at TfL, expanded on this and said: “We are working with vehicle manufacturers to identify the star ratings of new Euro-6 vehicles – these will be available shortly and will provide operators with the clarity they need to purchase ULEZ-compliant vehicles with the highest safety rating.

"Ratings for older vehicles will also follow. However, most vehicles will be able to improve the level of overall safety by using a 'Safe System'.”

The DVS was announced in September 2016 as a star-rating system only permitting those with better driver visibility from the cab to enter London .

However, following an initial consultation period, it was revised last year to potentially also incorporate additional safety aids into the rating of an HGV, such as cameras and mirrors via a new permit scheme.

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