TfL is urging operators of HGVs over 12 tonnes to apply now for a free Direct Vision Standard (DVS) Safety Permit, ahead of enforcement action being implemented from 1 March 2021.

Latest TfL data suggests that as many as 100,000 HGVs using the capital’s roads have yet to apply for their permit, despite facing the risk of a penalty charge notice of £550 for non-compliance (halved if paid within 14 days).

DVS rules, which assign HGVs a star rating up to five based on how much a driver can see directly through their cab window, became law in October this year. However, TfL delayed enforcement of the scheme until next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“TfL understands that the freight industry has been exceptionally busy during the coronavirus pandemic and as a result has delayed the enforcement of the DVS until March to give HGV owners more time to apply for Safety Permits and improve the safety of their vehicles,” a spokeswoman told MT.

All HGVs of 12 tonnes and above must obtain a Safety Permit, regardless of their star rating.

HGVs rated one star and above can apply directly for their free permit with no further steps needed, however those vehicles rated zero stars must first fit additional safety equipment before applying.

TfL opened the system for permit applications in October 2019 and to date says more than 44,000 have been issued.

It has sent more than 150,000 letters to registered keepers this year advising them of the scheme and encouraging operators to apply for permits ahead of the upcoming enforcement deadline – including the need to allow 28 days for permit applications to be processed.

TfL said that many companies such as Tideway, CEMEX and Tarmac have already invested in 5-star rated vehicles, “making London’s roads safer for everyone”.

The spokeswoman added: “Between 2015 and 2019, HGVs were disproportionately involved in fatal collisions, with 55% of those involving people cycling and 21% of those involving people walking, each causing heartbreak and trauma for everyone involved.

“Each is an unacceptable tragedy and TfL is committed to creating a safer future for everyone in the capital.

“The introduction of the Direct Vision Standard forms part of the Mayor of London's Vision Zero plan to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on London's transport network by 2041.”

Operators can apply for their free Safety Permit online, and also use TfL’s online vehicle registration checker to see the star rating of their HGV.