The Traffic Commissioners of Great Britain has recently published its annual report to the transport secretary. Within it, they emphasise a range of key compliance issues encountered by the regulators in the year ending March 2022.
Key compliance issues
- Load security improvements
Load security was highlighted as an area that needed improvement. They stated that “Commissioners are particularly concerned with the number of cases referred to them where tipper vehicles have been poorly loaded and not correctly sheeted.”
The Health & Safety Executive has a range of useful resources available to operators – via its website. The Traffic Commissioners recommended operators make use of the various resources available, particularly taking note of the factsheet on sheeting.
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- Walkaround checks
They pointed out that an estimated 85% of roadside fines for infringements could be avoided if drivers had performed a walkaround check prior to the journey.
If you need help with this area of compliance, we would recommend you try AssetGo as it enables drivers to easily carry out daily walkaround checks and flags up to fleet managers if checks haven’t been made.
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- Failure to keep contact details up to date
Commissioners noted that they had seen many cases where licences were being revoked due to: “operators not engaging with the traffic commissioners or failing to keep their details up to date.” Stating: “If the Office of the Traffic Commissioner does not have the correct contact details, important messages will not be received by the operator. There are too many cases where a transport manager has been removed from a licence and the operator later claims that they did not even know that the individual had resigned.”
They explained that “Any operator receiving correspondence from the Office of the Traffic Commissioner must give it priority and ensure a full response is made by any deadline stated. The resulting loss of an operator’s licence by not doing so, will have an avoidable negative impact on businesses and, at the very least, will incur unnecessary costs in reapplying for a licence.”
- UK residents holding non-UK CPCs
Commissioners highlighted a reoccurring issue with a number of transport manager CPCs being presented that were obtained outside the UK, despite their holders having been residents in the UK for a number of years.
They noted that: “The legislation states that a person must attain their qualification in their country of residence,” and added that: “The traffic commissioners do not accept a certificate of convenience.”
“Transport managers who have gone to another country because they find the exams easier can expect close scrutiny of their applications to see whether they can meet the requirement to effectively and continuously manage transport operations in Great Britain.”
- Maintenance service for fleets
The Traffic Commissioners underlined the importance of the role played by those providing maintenance services for fleets, stating: “There is no current requirement for maintenance providers to be formally qualified. There is an expectation often that individual contractors are competent, but that may not be the case.”
“As vehicle engineering becomes more complex, there is an obvious argument for individual contractors to have formal qualifications so that standards can be maintained and a level playing field be retained for all operators.”
- Traction-only services
Commissioners pointed out that: “In several high-profile cases this year it has been suggested that some trailer suppliers (including those based offshore) are avoiding responsibilities to ensure safe operation of trailers on GB roads.”
“The lack of adequate arrangements regarding regular and frequent brake testing has been a prominent failing. The potential impact on British roads is significant and the traffic commissioners have felt the need to issue several warnings regarding this to companies involved in this type of third-party trailer operation.”
The Traffic Commissioners emphasised that operators providing traction-only services to third-party trailers are legally responsible for the trailers’ condition when in use.
Commissioners stated: “The operator’s licence requires ‘satisfactory facilities and arrangements for maintaining the vehicles used under the licence in a fit and serviceable condition’.”
“In that context, ‘vehicles’ includes any trailer (including those from abroad) being drawn. An operator providing traction-only services must have trailer authority on that licence and must specify an inspection period.
“The trailer provider is likely to have its own inspection periods, which should be based in part on the age and characteristics of the trailers and work involved. However, the operator needs to satisfy themselves that it is appropriate. The operator must ensure that any trailer it operates meets the stated frequency for inspection. If the operator cannot satisfy themselves that a suitable assessment has taken place, then the operator must make their own assessment, as per the declared intervals.”
Further advice is available in the DVSA Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness and from the IRTE publication Roadworthiness: Industry Best Practice for third-party trailer operators, which includes a suggested ‘Co-operation request letter to trailer owner’.
- Driver welfare
The shortage of drivers was highlighted as a concern and commissioners emphasised that it could not be addressed at the expense of safety.
“There have been a number of studies published on the impact to driver reaction times, including issues such as reduced sleep,” said the report, which also acknowledged and praised the efforts made by drivers and operators during the pandemic.
“HSE’s publicly available guidance describes stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them. It recognises that those suffering from stress may not be best placed to make decisions about necessary control measures.”
“The pandemic led to considerable change in usual work patterns, but the safe management of drivers has always been fundamental to road safety.”
- Access to high quality maintenance services
The report observed that “Access to properly equipped high-quality maintenance services, particularly for operators in rural parts of Scotland, is often limited.”, but that “We must strive to ensure that proper roller brake testing facilities can be accessed regularly, and without difficulty, wherever operators are located. Such access is imperative for road safety.”
The full Traffic Commissioners’ report can be found here. If you have any questions relating to any of the compliance priorities mentioned in the article or require help managing the compliance of your fleet. Get in touch.