A) This is a common myth between drivers that all sleeper cabs must be fitted with a working night heater. The night heater is fitted as part of a comfort pack. It is not part of the PMI or MOT to check if a cab night heater is operational or safe to operate. However, it is part of the driver’s walk round check.
As an employer you have a moral obligation and duty of care to ensure the safety and well-being of your drivers. A night heater helps to ensure a comfortable area for overnight sleeping and to use when waiting to load/unload to prevent unnecessary idling of the vehicle engine.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Q) One of our collection routes involves a vehicle needing to go down a road with the below sign at the start of it. The sign does not state ‘except for access’. However, there are no alternative routes to the property in question. Therefore, where would we stand if a vehicle over 7.5 tonnes maximum authorised mass was taken down the road to collect accordingly?
A) The red circular signs give orders and are mostly prohibitive. As there is no “except for access” sign underneath, you would be committing an offence to send a vehicle over 7.5 tonnes MAM past this road sign. These signs are erected by the local authority and therefore they would be the first point of contact as to the reason they are there and to explain the situation.
If the sign is ignored the driver could receive a fixed penalty of £100. As part of the operator licencing obligations, this would also have to be reported to the Traffic Commissioner.
Q) We are looking to switch our maintenance systems to a digital system. The plan is to do this in line with the fleet replacement for ease of use. What does the digital system need in order for it to be compliant in the eyes of enforcement?
A: The Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness states that it is ‘ultimately the roadworthiness of the vehicles operated that will demonstrate if the system is well designed and meets the required standards.’
It goes on to give important features of the system, including areas such as being tamper-proof, meeting data protection requirements, and having back-ups and disaster recovery systems.
The system should also be secure, with authentication to prevent unauthorised access, date and time stamping to prevent tampering and a full audit trail.
NO LICENCE, NO JOURNEY
Q: One of our drivers is planning to do a journey into Europe next week, but was also required to send their licence off to DVLA in order to renew it. As it has not yet been received back, would a letter from DVLA stating that the licence is currently with them be sufficient to allow them to drive within the EU?
A: This would not be permitted as they do not have their correct licence and any documentation would be challenged roadside. Forgeries of letters are much easier to do, and authorities would have no way of checking the legitimacy of any such document.
Drivers are expected to have their correct licence on them for production to any enforcement officer on request.
Q) How many qualified transport managers that are holding the Certificate of Professional Competence (TMCPC) do I need in my business?
A) There is no exact ‘ratio of vehicles/operating centres per transport manager’ in legislation, as there are several factors that must be taken into consideration. These will include the number of operating centres, distances between them etc.
However, the Traffic Commissioner makes suggestions as to how many hours of work that a transport manager should dedicate to a certain number of vehicles. These can be found in the ‘Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Documents No. 3’.
An important point to note as stated in the first paragraph of Annex 1 of this document:
“The overriding factor is the ability of the nominated qualified person to exercise effective and continuous management of the transport undertaking.”
AHEAD OF THE GAME
Q) Can you apply for driver and company cards in advance of the vehicle’s arrival?
A) Yes, you can, and you should. It is extremely important that card applications are made in good time. Cards should arrive within 15 working days of the date the DVLA receives the application. So, in theory, applications can be made up to four weeks prior to the time they are needed. You can apply early and specify the date you wish the card to take effect on the application form. You can also apply up to three months before the date you wish the card to be valid from.
SCALING THE HEIGHTS
Q) What is the correct format for displaying the height of a vehicle in a cab? We have been told it has to be in both imperial and metric?
A) Within the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 section 10 (Indication of overall travelling height) it states the following:
(2) No person shall use or cause or permit to be used on a road a vehicle to which this regulation applies if the overall travelling height exceeds 3.66m unless there is carried in the vehicle in the manner specified in paragraph (3) a notice clearly indicating in feet and inches and in figures not less than 40mm tall, the overall travelling height.
This would mean that although you can have the height indicated by both feet/inches and metres (imperial and metric) the travelling height only needs to be in imperial units of length.
Q) One of my HGV drivers has just received six points for speeding in his own car. Do we need to inform the Traffic Commissioner of this as it was in his own car outside of work hours?
A) You would need to notify the Traffic Commissioner of this sort of incident. You would also need to explain who the driver was and their details, and a basic understanding of what happened, and what penalty was awarded to them. You should also include information on what has been done to prevent this incident from happening again, though this may be limited as it happened outside of work time, but toolbox talks or equivalent notice to all drivers reminding them of the laws and requirement to always abide by them are always useful. The Traffic Commissioner would like to see that companies have actioned some sort of training or awareness of the regulations when it comes to vocational driver conduct and behaviours outside of working hours.