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Maintaining roadworthy vehicles

By Martin Candish, Head of Compliance Information, Logistics UK    

Under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, which enforcement officers and Traffic Commissioners (TC) refer to for in-service standards, there is a legal requirement for the owner and driver of any motor vehicle and/or trailer to ensure that their load, passenger(s) and the vehicle itself is in the right condition and will not cause any danger either to the operator or someone else.

Road safety and compliance is always a high priority for Logistics UK and the business group works closely with its members to remain compliant with new legislation.   

The Driver and Vehicle Services Agency (DVSA) has recently focussed more on vehicle load security enforcement, and operators must ensure that the load carried by a vehicle or trailer is fully secured at all times – using a suitable vehicle or trailer – and neither danger nor a nuisance is likely to be caused to any person or property by the load moving or falling off.  

If the individual owns or operates vehicles and/or trailers, or drives them, then these are the overriding legal principles that will apply.  

It is essential that both the operator and driver have clear processes in place to fulfil these requirements, and if they are not working, then the necessary changes need to be made.  

It is important to note that in the TCs’ view, the operator/owner of the vehicle has different responsibilities than the driver.  

The operator oversees maintaining the vehicle and/or trailer in a roadworthy condition whereas the driver must ensure that the vehicle (and if applicable, trailer) they are using at that time is in a roadworthy condition.  

Operators have the responsibility to carry out safety inspections, driver defect reporting, attend driver training and awareness courses, book in servicing and maintenance in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations, and ensure the MOT is completed on time.  

In comparison, drivers have the responsibility of checking the vehicle and load before using on the road, then monitoring the in-use condition of their vehicle and any load carried, reporting any identified issues and/or defects in a timely manner, checking more frequently when road conditions are bad.   

Driver walk-around checks are imperative and must be carried out by the driver before taking over a new vehicle or trailer, in addition to their other responsibilities listed above. Driver checks include items such as lights, tyres, steering, brake operation, fuel/oil levels, warning devices and mirrors. If a fault is discovered, then the driver must record the fault in writing and then report it following the correct procedure.  

It is strongly recommended that drivers complete and sign a form after every check, even if no fault is found, as it can be used to prove that any fault found at a roadside check happened en route. In addition to the initial walk around check, drivers should also regularly look over their vehicle throughout the shift to monitor the condition; frequency of checks would depend on the type of vehicle and use.   

For everything to run smoothly, it is vital that transport managers provide their drivers with the time, knowledge and tools to complete good quality, robust checks, allowing defects to be located and reported early.  

Regular training is fundamental to making sure drivers are fully aware and capable of doing what is expected of them.  

When determining whether or not the vehicle is roadworthy, it is crucial that either an in-house maintenance team is used or an external competent person who has the knowledge and understanding to assess the effect of defects on roadworthiness and the authority to take vehicles out of service.  

Transport managers must also provide continuous and effective management by laying out clear processes and ensuring that reported defects are followed up and rectified. Logistics UK prioritises its members’ safety and wellbeing within the industry by leading multiple sessions with transport managers, advising on new legislation and how to keep their employees safe and compliant.  

The DVSA’s ‘Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness’, written in conjunction with Logistics UK, TCs, Road Haulage Association (RHA), Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE), provides operators with clear advice and directions on how to meet the conditions for operator licensing and remain compliant with TC and industry agreed standards. 

The business group will continue to provide resources and learning opportunities for its members to ensure they remain up to date and vigilant regarding any new regulations.  



Published On: 01/02/2024 14:30:00


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