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Trade associations have cautioned against adding further complexity into the London supply chain, after TfL went live with its latest Direct Vision Standard (DVS) consultation.

TfL is seeking responses to its proposal to introduce a Safety Permit Scheme as part of DVS, a move that would potentially see the controversial scheme recognise efforts made by the industry in regards camera and sensor systems.

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “The number of deaths each year involving HGVs is a tragedy and we are committed to changing this.

“We welcome feedback from the industry and all other road users on our latest proposals for the HGV Safety Permit Scheme, as we work together to improve vehicle safety.”

DVS will rate HGVs depending on the level of a driver’s direct vision from a cab. HGVs will be given a rating between ‘zero-star’ (lowest) and ‘five-star’ (highest).

Zero-rated vehicles will be banned from 2020, and three-stars will be required to drive on London’s streets by 2024.

However, the permit as proposed would mitigate this, allowing HGVs over 12-tonnes to continue operating in London past 2020 if they have certain safety equipment fitted.

TfL also confirmed the star ratings of vehicles will be published following feedback from the current consultation – an approach that drew criticism at this month’s Freight in the City Expo with commentators suggesting the ratings should have come first.

In response to the consultation, Natalie Chapman, FTA’s head of policy for London, said: “Road safety is hugely important and one death on the roads is one too many. However, as trucks are manufactured for the whole of Europe, standards for vehicle design should be set at an EU level and not by individual cities.

“The narrow focus on direct vision was the wrong one and we are glad that the proposals now being consulted on recognise the technical solutions which are now available and the improvements companies have already made.”

Chapman added: “Whilst the ‘safe system’ proposal is a move in the right direction, the new permit scheme has the potential to make the regulatory environment in London even more complex. The Safety Permit Scheme needs to be simple, reliable and enforceable and should focus on the vehicle only to match the Direct Vision Standard approach.”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said the latest consultation posed several questions and he added: “It is not acceptable that the ratings will not be known until after the consultation ends.”

Alongside developing the DVS, TfL has been lobbying the European Commission (EC) for changes in international vehicle safety and design regulations. It said that as a result of this lobbying, MEPs recently voted in support of having standards of 'direct vision’, which will be proposed by the EC when it overhauls vehicle safety rules early next year.

Burnett applauded this move.

“We welcome the mayor’s support for a comprehensive and international approach to vehicle standards and we look forward to working with the mayor’s team in support of getting the best road safety outcomes for Londoners and the rest of the UK,” he said.

The consultation runs until 24 January.