“Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness” has major update

As of Monday, 23rd April 2018 there is a new edition to the DVSA’s “Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness” which features a number of major changes.

A brief summary of the major changes is as follows:

  • The Inspection table in Annex 4 has been updated following feedback to cover a vast range of time-based frequencies for vehicle inspections.
  • Information related to IT systems used in Vehicle Maintenance Systems, as well as information on Electronic Braking Performance Monitoring Systems available in other guide has been directly incorporated into the latest version of the guide.
  • Facilities used for inspections & maintenance are recommended to obtain a form of recognised quality standard; such as IRTE’s accreditation scheme.
  • Following a steady rise in reports of Tyre Defects by road-side enforcers, greater detail has been given of their maintenance and upkeep.
  • It is strongly advised that a laden roller brake test is now used during every safety inspection. In the event a road test is used, brake temperature readings should be recorded as part of the inspection.
  • In light of the DVSA crackdown on AdBlue cheats, greater detail is given to Emissions testing and the legislation surrounding this offence.
  • Details covering the changes to the Earned Recognition Scheme brought about by the EU Roadworthiness Directive and new prohibition assessment criteria are covered.
  • An updated driver defect report; covering AdBlue systems checks and vehicle height.
  • An updated safety inspection report; covering brake temperature readings and the report sign-off.
  • Advice covering the use of the Vehicle Operator Licensing system (VOL) with a view to maintenance updates.
  • An updated version of the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations guidance.

We strongly recommend that all operators download the latest version of this guide and review it against your existing systems in great detail as the DVSA has shown to be proactive in recent month of these new guidelines and requirements; leading to many an operator being called to Public Inquires for failings under their Operator’s License Undertakings.

The Crackdown on AdBlue Cheating Devices Yields Results

As we mentioned in a previous news post; both the DVSA and the Office of the Traffic Commissioner have been enacting a crackdown on vehicles and operators found to be using AdBlue cheating devices.

Recently released figures show that between August 2017 & February 2018, nearly 400 trucks where found to have such a device installed; with the breakdown showing that that UK-registered vehicles are more likely than foreign-registered vehicles to have the devices installed. Of 4339 UK-Registered vehicles checked, 261 were found to have a cheat device installed; compared to 127 across 5898 foreign-registered vehicles checked.

These vehicles were discovered through a combination of submitted intelligence concerning given operators and vehicles; as well as mechanical & visual management system checks. However, the DVSA have gone on record as saying that means to measure excess nitrogen oxide or dioxide & other such emissions as part of roadside stops are ‘being explored’.

The discovery of such devices have lead to harsh punishments; with Bolton-based Warne Transport, Gloucestershire-based KSL & Rapid Response based in Stoke-on-Trent all having their operators’ licenses revoked. Meanwhile Mactrans based in Weston-Super-Mare has been disqualified from holding an operators’ license for 12 months.

TC’s across the country have grown impatient with operators who claim ignorance of emulators; even those claiming the devices were already fitted when they bought a vehicle. In his written decision on the Rapid Response public inquiry Nick Denton; the TC for the West Midlands stated: “The need for AdBlue should have been self-evident to anyone who understood the business of operating HGVs and who had kept up even a marginal acquaintance with the trade press over the last few years.” Other TC’s have compared their use to “using a magnet to interrupt accurate tachograph recording”.

Once again, we strongly advice operators to ensure that no vehicle in their fleet; knowing or unknowingly, has such a device installed. Should you discover such a device, document it’s discovery, removal and suitable reprimands to staff involved in it’s installation and/or use.

Released Figures show 5.3% of Driver’s were Breaching Hours’ Laws

In 2016/17 DVSA made nearly 90,000 checks to ensure that commercial drivers weren’t driving for longer than allowed, risking fatigue-related accidents. The outcome is that more than 1 in 20 (5.3%) of drivers had broken the rules on maximum driving hours. British drivers are also slightly more law abiding than foreigners, with 5.1% of British drivers flouting the rules against 5.9% of their foreign counterparts.

It’s worth noting that the figures has fallen since 2015/16, when the overall offending rate was 7.3%.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have gone on record saying that “driving while tired may be responsible for 1 in 5 of all accidents, as well as up to a quarter of serious and fatal crashes on Britain’s roads.” According to THINK!, almost half of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles, and almost a quarter of injuries from accidents involving lorries are fatal or serious, compared to 1 in 8 of all crashes.

As of March 5th, the DVSA has been issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) of £300; not just for drivers’ hours offences committed on the day that drivers are checked, but for up to 5 offences committed over the preceding 28 days.

Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani announces Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme

On 28th March 2018, Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani announced a new Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme aimed at cutting emissions and ensuring cleaner and greener journeys.

Local authorities and operators in England and Wales will be able to bid for a share of a £48 million fund; setup to help fund new ultra-low emission buses as well as the infrastructure to support them.

For more information, check out the full article on the Gov.uk website here.

A Clampdown on AdBlue Cheats

In a new push against the use of emulators; devices designed to bypass or disable the AdBlue systems installed on a vehicle, both the DVSA and the office of the Traffic Commissioner have said they will take a ‘Dim View’ of any operator whose vehicles are found to have the devices installed.

In a recent incident, the presence of such a device was the grounds for the revocation of an operators’ license and the office of the Traffic Commissioner have warned that their use will be treated in the same vein as the fitting of magnets to alter/falsify digital tachograph records.

Moving forward, the DVSA will be using the discovery of any such device on one vehicle as grounds to carry out a full inspection of an operators’ entire fleet; including maintenance systems and emissions testing. In point of fact, the use of such a device will now result in an S-marked prohibition; the issuing of which can lead to prosecution of the driver and/or the operator themselves.

We strongly advice all operators to carry out a full and immediate review of their fleet as soon as possible. Cataloguing and documenting the removal of any such devices found; as well as my disciplinary actions taken against the offending member(s) or staff could be vital in the face of any future enforcement action carried out against the operator.

Simplifying the GDPR

As of May 2018, the new regulation of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) comes into effect.

The general conceit behind the latest version of the regulation, is to simplify the assorted collection of legislation which presently covers all data protection under a single legal framework.

Failure to comply with the latest change can result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their annual global turnover.

For more information, please visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website or follow this link.

A Reduction in Exemptions

In a recent update to vehicle exemptions based upon HGV chassis, a significant number of vehicles are no longer exempt from plating and testing. These include:

  • Mobile Cranes
  • Breakdown Vehicles
  • Engineering Plant
  • Asphalt trailers
  • Tower Wagons
  • Road Construction Vehicles (Not including Road Rollers)
  • Electric Trucks (aged 3 years or less)
  • Volumetric Concrete Mixers
  • Fast Tractors
  • All Trailer Types

Any such vehicle will need either a valid Goods Vehicle Testing Certificate as of 20th May 2018; or such a certificate at the time of the vehicle’s exercise duty (VED) renewal date after 19th May 2018.

Updates to Brake Performance Testing

In a recent warning issued by the Office of The Traffic Commissioner and the DVSA; both bodies have warned that operators need to change and improve their approach to brake performance testing.

As outlined in the recent edition of the DVSA’s ‘Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness‘, it is clearly stated that a metered assessment of both vehicle and trailer performance is required during each safety inspection.

The guide further outlines that in order to measure the individual brake performance and overall brake efficiencies, that a calibrated roller brake tester should be used. However, concessions are made for vehicles without a trailer to have their overall brake efficiencies to be tested by an approved and calibrated roller brake test.

The guide outlines the best practice of using a vehicle or trailer in a laden state, in order to achieve the most meaningful and accurate results.

Furthermore, it goes on to state that if these tests cannot be carried out during a safety inspection; then the vehicle’s braking performance must be checked using a road test. Such tests would need to be carried out under safe, controlled conditions; the safety inspection sheet would also need to clearly state that a road test was used.

Fitness to drive legal update

On the 1st January 2018 DVLA released an update ‘Assessing Fitness to Drive: A Guide for Medical Professionals’.

This guide covers changes on advice given on insulin-treated diabetes, neurological disorders, cardio-vascular disorders, diabetes mellitus and visual disorders.

For more information; please see the following links:
Information for Medical Professionals
Information for Non-Specialists.

The cost of compliance and cleaner city air

What might we expect in the wake of last month’s High Court ruling, which found against the government’s current clean air strategy? The legally binding outcome, which is not being appealed, compels ministers to come up with a new plan to radically reduce NOx pollution. And fast. But planning is one thing: delivering it equitably, even painlessly, is quite another.

There’s more. The FTA (Freight Transport Association) and others were concerned that DEFRA’s (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) now discredited clean air strategy already went too far. Their concern: in the absence of adequate, sensibly priced CAZ (clean air zone) compliant Euro 6 vehicles – especially vans – many fleet operators would simply be forced out of their markets.
Now, however, campaign group ClientEarth and the court are likely to force DEFRA to concede twice, even three times the number of CAZs previously proposed. And it would be no surprise to see the due-date brought forward to 2018, instead of 2019 or 2020. If both turn out to be the case (and there are few alternatives to appeasing the judiciary and the populace), the future looks anything but festive.
Something has to give. And that something surely ought to be ministers’ resistance to putting their hands in their pockets. Yes, that means taxpayers’ money. But, given that most fleet operators are hardly flush with cash to accelerate vehicle renewal cycles, how else might they rise to this challenge which inevitably affects us all?

As we go to press, ministers are silent. But nothing short of a national scrappage scheme for, say, pre-Euro 3 trucks, buses, vans – and cars – will cut the mustard. That and serious incentives to encourage uptake of alternative transport fuels, such as gas, dual-fuel diesel and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), hybrids and full electrics.

Brian Tinhman

Transport Engineer Publication