FORS explained: Fleets to be FORS Gold

1633 people were killed and 27,796 were seriously injured on UK roads in 2023, with a large percentage consisting of vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Separate figures from Transport for London (TfL) show that the number of people who were killed or seriously injured in the capital increased from 3,580 in 2021 to 3,974 in 2022, an increase of 11%. TfL said: “It is neither inevitable nor acceptable that anyone should be killed or seriously injured when travelling in London. When we leave our homes each day, we should feel safe and confident about the journey ahead”.

Like many major cities around the world, London is taking a stand to end the toll of deaths and injuries seen on their roads, by committing to Vision Zero. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy sets out the goal that, by 2041, all deaths and serious injuries will be eliminated from London’s transport network.

Direct Vision Zero action plan tackles vehicle safety on London’s roads

The Vision Zero action plan highlights that the action taken to reduce danger needs to focus on those vehicles that present the greatest risk. Relative to their share of traffic, larger vehicles, such as HGVs and buses, present the greatest risk to vulnerable road users. Large goods vehicles are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal collisions involving people walking and cycling. Such vehicles make up less than 5% of the kilometres driven in London, but in 2016 they were involved in around 50% of collisions in which people were killed while cycling, and 23% of people killed while walking.

These vehicles commonly have an elevated driver’s seat, which creates large ‘blind spots’ where the driver can’t see at pavement level, and that have been shown to contribute to deaths and serious injuries. The Vision Zero action plan set out to raise HGV safety standards by introducing the Direct Vision Standard and HGV Safety Permit Scheme. The Direct Vision Standard, a safety standard set by Transport for London (TfL), focuses on the visibility of vulnerable road users from the drivers’ view and aims to reduce vehicle blind spots, where the level of risk to vulnerable road users is particularly high.

What are the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) requirements?

From March 2021 all vehicles over 12T gross vehicle weight require a DVS permit to operate in the DVS Zone, or risk a penalty notice from TfL. Action required to attain a DVS Safety Permit depends on the star rating of your vehicle, determined by the manufacturer. These ratings, ranging from 0 to 5, correspond to the amount of visibility the driver has directly from the cab window and measure the level of risk to vulnerable road users near the vehicle. The 2021 Direct Vision Standard requires all vehicles with a 0-star rating to have a DVS Safe System fitted to meet the minimum DVS safety standards and receive a permit, but this is set to change in October 2024. To meet the new DVS 2024 standard, 0 to 2-star rated vehicles must have a Progressive Safe System installed.

These systems are designed to improve a driver’s ability to see vulnerable road users in blind spots and reduce false alarms. Smart systems will only issue warnings when there is a real risk to pedestrians or cyclists, ignoring things like street signs, other vehicles, or road furniture. They should also have different warning levels around the vehicle, from potential danger to an imminent collision.

Alerts will notify both the driver inside the vehicle and the vulnerable road user outside who is detected in the danger zone. One of the biggest changes from the old DVS is that it now requires the detection of vulnerable road users in the front blind spots, known as Moving Off Information Systems (MOIS). Since launching the Direct Vision Standard legislation, TFL has given permits to over 200,000 HGVs. The aim of DVS is very clear; standardise safety equipment on vehicles and make London’s roads safer.

Find Out More About DVS 2024

New FORS Compliance requirements to be introduced from April

FORS Bronze is the entry level award. It proves that a business complies with high standards of vehicle safety, environmental impact, and operational matters such as vulnerable road user protection, fuel, and tyre usage. To achieve FORS Bronze accreditation, larger vehicles must be fitted with safety equipment (FORS Bronze vehicle safety requirement V6):

  • Blind Spot Warning signage to the rear of the vehicle – must be clearly visible and warn other road users of the near-side close proximity blind spot hazard.
  • Side under-run protection to both sides of the vehicle.
    • Class V and VI Close-Proximity Mirrors – to be fitted to the vehicle with no part of the mirror being 2 metres from the ground, and where they are fully visible from the driving position. Close-proximity mirror field of view may be achieved using a camera monitoring system.
    • London Operations are required to comply with DVS.
    • Which vehicles are subject to the requirements? – Blind spot warning signage and safety equipment at Bronze V6 apply to all HGVs and vehicles designed to carry more than 16 passengers. Side under-run protection and close-proximity mirrors apply to all HGVs, unless defined as exempt in the Safer Lorry Scheme Traffic Regulation Order

FORS Silver requirements explained:

Operators looking to achieve FORS Silver accreditation must maintain the requirements of the FORS Bronze accreditation award. Vehicles must also be fitted with enhanced safety equipment, including blind spot vision aids (FORS Silver vehicle safety requirements S6):

  • A camera system that monitors the near-side vehicle blind spot
  • An in-cab display screen to provide the driver with a view of the nearside blind spot
  • A close proximity sensor and driver audible alert system to alert the driver of other road users in the near-side blind spot.
  • Where the driver has full view of the near-side blind spot area by direct vision, such as a left-hand drive vehicle, the camera system and in-cab display screen are not required.
  • Rigid goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight shall be fitted with a camera system that monitors the rear vehicle blind spot. A camera system may also be fitted to the rear of trailers.
  • An audible warning system that alerts other road users of left-turn and reversing manoeuvres
  • A tolerance in the number of vehicles fitted with a camera system may be accepted for vehicles registered before 1 January 2015 where there is not a contractual or permit requirement. If this tolerance is permitted, older vehicles not fitted with camera systems shall be fitted with an alternative blind spot vision aid such as Fresnel Lens.
  • Which vehicles are subject to the requirements? – Enhanced vulnerable road user safety equipment at Silver S6 applies to all HGVs.

The equipment installed in order to comply with DVS will be relevant for FORS Silver accreditation, but only if a reverse alarm is also present.

FORS Gold requirements explained:

Operators looking to achieve FORS Gold accreditation must maintain the requirements of the FORS Bronze and Silver accreditation awards. Where a tolerance has been accepted at Silver requirement S6 to allow for older vehicles in the fleet replacement cycle, HGVs at Gold requirement G3 (irrespective of age) must be fitted with:

  • A camera system that monitors the near-side vehicle blind spot
  • An in-cab display screen to provide the driver with a view of the near-side blind spot However, fitment of blind spot vision aids for vehicles registered before 1 January 2015 may be planned and evidenced in line with the operator’s fleet replacement cycle. This must be fully justified at audit.
  • Which vehicles are subject to the requirements? – Camera systems and in-cab display screens for blind spot vision aids at Gold G3 apply to all HGVs, irrespective of age.

The positive impact of vehicle safety equipment

FORS currently has more than 203,000 vehicles accredited across 4,700 companies, both within the UK and abroad. The introduction of additional safety equipment and driver training through FORS has led to a 31% reduction in serious injuries as a result of collisions involving commercial vehicles, based on performance data submitted for Silver audits between 2021 and 2022. TfL argues that moving to the higher standard of FORS Gold will ensure accredited operators meet the enhanced standards which are above the legal requirements for operating commercial vehicles, further reducing the risk to vulnerable road users.

Deputy mayor for transport, Seb Dance, said: “London has been leading the way in improving lorry safety through the Direct Vision standard, which has seen a huge reduction in fatal collisions where sight is a contributing factor. FORS Gold is another example of how we are driving up standards in the freight and fleet industry to build a better, safer city for everyone.”

Visit our Fleet Solutions page to find out more about DVS 2024 and FORS Compliance.

FORS explained