What’s the difference between FORS and the Direct Vision Standard?

By now, FORS and Direct Vision are both well known to most fleet managers, especially since they’ve both been around for quite some time. However, since they share certain similarities it can sometimes be easy to confuse them. With the Direct Vision Standard due for its implementation in October of this year, our vehicle safety experts thought it was the perfect time to explain the key differences between the two schemes, so you can ensure that your vehicles meet the requirements set by both, allowing you to raise the bar for the standard of your operations.

What is FORS?

The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme, commonly shortened to FORS, is a voluntary accreditation scheme that aims to raise the level of quality within fleet operations, and help operators to demonstrate their exemplary commitment to safety, efficiency, and environmental protection. To qualify for FORS accreditation, fleet operators must meet the minimum standards of fuel efficiency, fuel safety, vehicle emissions and improved operations. By doing this, FORS aims to encourage and incentivise the safest and most sustainable approaches, so that fleet operators can be safer, smarter and greener in their commercial operations.

FORS is open to operators of vans, lorries, minibuses, coaches, and other vehicles, as well as certain organisations that award contracts to these operators. The scheme is entirely optional, but in more than a decade since its launch, FORS has gained a reputation as ‘the’ standard for fleet operators, their clients and enforcement agencies. In short, companies still operating a commercial fleet without FORS accreditation run the risk of putting themselves several steps behind the competition.


The Direct Vision Standard

Now, the Direct Vision Standard is a little more involved by comparison, it forms part of  a government scheme which aims to improve the safety standards of all heavy vehicles entering Greater London.

We’ve gone into full details about the Direct Vision Standard before, but to give you a brief rundown, the standard judges how much an HGV driver can see directly from their cab with their own eyes – in other words, without the use of cameras, mirrors or similar devices. Vehicles which meet the minimum requirements are then given a star rating, which qualifies them for a Safety Permit from Transport for London.

HGV Driver

This Safety Permit is really important – under the terms the scheme, all vehicles over 12 tonnes will need a valid Safety Permit to enter or operate in Greater London from October 2020 onwards. (Applications for these permits are open now, by the way.) Operators found to be in Greater London without a Safety Permit will face severe consequences; the employer will be fined around £550 per offence, with the driver themselves having to pay £150.

So, what can you do if your vehicle doesn’t meet the required standard to get a Safety Permit? Don’t worry – you can still get yours by applying for a Safe System. This involves an assessment of your vehicles just like those conducted as part of similar schemes like FORS and CLOCS. Applying for a Safe System allows you to account for the lack of Direct Vision by using approved vehicle safety devices to give the driver greater awareness of their surroundings.

We stock a number of products here at Vision Techniques that perfectly fit those specifications. Amongst these approved products are our TurnAlarm, TurnSign, and TurnSensor products (all of which you can find in our TurnSafe range) as well as our alpha wedge camera.

FORS and Direct Vision – the differences in a nutshell

One of the main differences is quite obvious – FORS is entirely voluntary, whereas if you operate in or around London (as many operators do), then the Direct Vision Standard is certainly not. Besides this, FORS and Direct Vision are very similar in lots of ways. They both involve detailed assessments of your vehicles to judge them against minimum safety standards, and aim to improve the general standard of your heavy vehicles. In doing this, they allow you to guarantee a consistently high standard of operations, while also lending a valued sense of credibility to your business and operations in the eyes of customers, clients and investors. The two schemes aren’t explicitly linked, but they are highly complementary, and by ensuring your fleet meets their standards, you’ll ultimately save yourself a lot of time, money and hassle in the long run.

As we touched on above, that’s where we can help here at Vision Techniques. As well as indirect vision products, our flagship BrakeSafe and StopSafe technologies have also proven to have immeasurable safety benefits. You can browse them right here on our site, or alternatively give us a call on 01254 679 717 if you need any assistance or advice. We’re here to help!