🕒 Article read time: 4 minutes
In profile: Alina Tuerk, Strategy & Planning Manager for DVS, Transport for London
Joining Transport for London (TfL) at the beginning of 2015, Alina Tuerk spent her first three years at the government body working on the Silvertown Tunnel project.
Today she is the Strategy and Planning Manager in City Planning, where she looks after several different policy areas including freight. She has been involved with the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) since November 2017, at a point where TfL was consulting around how it could bring about the scheme for London.
A NEW STANDARD
Tuerk says the origins of the DVS lie in research that was carried out in 2012 as part of TfL’s CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Community Safety) programme.
“We carried out research which showed that construction vehicles’ blind spots were a significant contributing factor to collisions involving people walking and cycling,” she explained. “So that was really the instigator for TfL developing and commissioning more research, which led to us developing this policy.”
A key piece of research was carried out by the University of Leeds and ARUP, which compared the collision risk of vehicles with high levels of direct vision to those with low levels. It found that when a driver perceives a hazard directly through a vehicle’s window, rather than on a camera display or in a mirror, they responded 0.7 seconds faster.
“That sounds like a really small number,” said Tuerk, “but even at just five miles per hour that’s an extra stopping distance of 1.5 metres which in a crowded environment like London can mean the difference between life and death.”
The DVS now forms part of one of the four pillars of the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero action plan which was launched in 2018. This is composed of safe speeds, safe streets, safe vehicles and safe behaviours.
“Safe vehicles,” Tuerk said, “covers all different vehicles types and the DVS is one of those elements focusing on HGVs over 12 tonnes.”
The overall goal of Vision Zero, which was welcomed by Logistics UK and others, is to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from the London transport network by 2041.
TfL has been working with Logistics UK and other industry stakeholders throughout the development of the DVS. This engagement has seen TfL listen to the concerns of Logistics UK members and take on board several suggestions to help mitigate the impact of DVS on operators.
“I think there’s a number of key decisions that have come out of a combination of that one-on-one engagement with Logistics UK and other industry stakeholders,” Tuerk said, “but also the feedback that’s come through the public consultations that we’ve held. In total we’ve held four public consultations throughout the development of the project.”
At the time of TfL’s first consultation, the proposal was to directly ban all vehicles rated below one star within London.
“Feedback through the consultation made it very clear how difficult that would be for the industry to achieve,” Tuerk said, “so we developed the safe system proposal and the permit approach.”
This ensures that operators that cannot replace their vehicles with one star or higher vehicles can still obtain a permit by fitting Safe System mitigation measures. This change, which Tuerk argues is a significant one, came about as a direct result of the consultation feedback.
The timing of the DVS has also changed to align it to the tightening of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ).
“Initially DVS was planned to be implemented sooner than the tightening of the LEZ,” Tuerk said, “but the argument was that it affects the same industry and anyone looking to purchase a new vehicle to meet one scheme standard would want to ensure that they meet the standard for both schemes. They wouldn’t want to change something on their vehicles six months down the line.”
TfL postponed the enforcement date of DVS from October 2020 to 1 March 2021. This has enabled operators to plan their procurement and ensure that any newly-purchased vehicles will meet the standards of both the DVS and the LEZ.
“A decision was made fairly early on in the pandemic when we were in the first phase of the first national lockdown,” Tuerk explained. “Trade associations and others wrote to us and the stress that the industry was facing became very apparent. It was felt that the priority should be on operators being able to reconfigure their operations where they needed to and respond to the initial impact of COVID hitting and lockdown happening, so a six-month delay was felt to be appropriate to allow for things to stabilise somewhat before we then started enforcing.”
PERIOD OF GRACE
As reported in last week’s Logistics Magazine, TfL is also introducing a 90-day grace period to support operators that have ordered Safe System components ahead of the 1 March enforcement start date but are experiencing delays in supply and fitting. Operators accepted for this grace period are said to be on an ‘allow list’.
“The important thing to point out here,” Tuerk said, “is that for an operator to be eligible for the 90 day grace period they still need to contact TfL before 1 March and provide the evidence that the fitment of the Safe System is scheduled and booked.”
Operators that wish to take advantage of this grace period must contact TfL via a dedicated email address – DVSGracePeriod@TfL.gov.uk – with details of their appointment and Vehicle Registration Number before 1 March 2021.
TfL has now issued more than 78,000 safety permits to operators.
“What’s important to point out about that,” Tuerk said, “was that at the end of December we were at 50,000 and at the beginning of last week we were at 70,000. So we’ve been seeing 5,000 applications going through every week.
“About a third are for zero-rated trucks,” she added.
Most permits are now being processed within three days of receipt, although operators should be aware that it can take longer. Tuerk said the majority of single vehicle applications are being turned around within a single day.
“We’re doing everything to process this as quickly as we can, but obviously operators need to submit their application in the first place,” she said.
Operators that do not have a safety permit or are not named on the ‘allow list’ by 1 March 2021 will be subject to enforcement using automatic number plate cameras, the same system TfL uses for enforcing its LEZ, ULEZ and Congestion Charge schemes.
“Effectively what that does,” Tuerk said, “is checks if a vehicle is spotted on our roads, whether a permit exists for that vehicle and if it doesn’t a penalty charge notice will be sent to the registered keeper and that’s associated with a £550 penalty charge, which is halved if paid within 14 days.”
However, Tuerk is keen to emphasise that TfL will only impose penalties on operators as a last resort.
“We don’t want anyone to be caught out,” she said, “so it’s about being aware of what you need to do to comply and to ensure you put your application in before 1 March, or get onto the allow list.”
TfL is aware of a number of operators that have invested in five-star vehicles as a result of the DVS being introduced, including CEMEX and Tarmac, as well as a number of specifiers on large construction projects within London.
“Thames Tideway, for example, has invested in a not insignificant fleet of five-star vehicles,” Tuerk said. “It’s a really positive step, especially in the construction sector, because often there’s an argument that five-star vehicles aren’t suitable for construction sites and clearly they won’t be suitable for use on all sites but nevertheless with the right protocol in place and the right conditions, we can get five-star mixers or other five-star vehicles on construction sites which is really, really positive.”
DRIVING SAFETY FORWARDS
Tuerk’s hopes for the DVS in the coming years is that it makes a significant contribution to TfL’s overall aims for Vision Zero, which is to completely eliminate death and serious injury from its network by 2041, so there are no further pedestrians or cyclists killed or seriously injured as the result of a collision involving an HGV.
Beyond this, she also hopes that the Direct Vision Standard is adopted far beyond the capital.
“Ultimately we would like to see this as a national or international standard, rather than a London-specific regulation,” she said. “Our ideal would be that London doesn’t need its own scheme in the future, but actually national or international requirements converge with what we have in London and that safety is improved everywhere.”
Published On: 18/02/2021 17:00:17