I’ve heard the focus of the DVSA’s enforcement activities are changing. Our MD, who usually handles everything, has been off work unwell and is unlikely to return any time soon, so most of his duties have fallen to me. Can you give me a kind of legal checklist to keep me right?!
Andrew M, Glasgow
I was pleased to receive your email Andrew, if only all operators were as organized as you are!
It’s true there is a slight change in approach from the DVSA, although they are still primarily concerned with road safety and fair competition. This new attitude is designed to “reward” compliant operators with fewer roadside stops (and the resulting financial cost of vehicle downtime).
As far as you are concerned, your first priority is to get all your paperwork and systems in place. Therefore you should consider the following questions/ points and use them as a starting point for ensuring your procedures are sufficient.
- You should have a dedicated file for each of your vehicles that contains all documentation that DVSA will require to see either during an inspection or a site visit.
- Make sure your vehicles are inspected within the agreed maintenance interval.
- Do your drivers perform daily walk around checks before use every day?
- Are defects reported, rectified and signed off by your repair agent?
- Do you have a system that records all this?
- Your tachograph data, whether analogue or digital, should be analysed on a regular basis (some suggest monthly is best).
- Do you notify your drivers (or users of the vehicle) of tachograph infringements in writing and a record kept?
- Keep a tachograph calibration certificate on file for each tachograph.
- Have your drivers been trained on how to use a tachograph properly, and are fully aware of drivers hours rules?Make sure you have documented the training for each driver on file.
- You should have in place a vehicle maintenance forward planning system.
- Plan in advance, by at least 6 months, all vehicle maintenance events.
If your licence is new or you have recently been issues with fixed penalty notices, it is standard practice for DVSA regional enforcement teams to inspect an operator’s site. The powers of DVSA inspectors are wide-ranging, and inspections are mandatory, under the terms of your goods vehicle operator licence.
The purpose of an inspection is to ascertain your level of compliance with operator licensing. They check you are carrying out the undertakings you agreed to when applying for your licence. You will be asked what compliance procedures you have in place and ask for evidence that they are being carried out diligently. Such inspections have a huge impact on how your business is viewed by the DVSA, and ultimately the likelihood of future inspections and site visits. Consequently, this is why you need to have all your paperwork and procedures bang up to date.
If DVSA inspect your site and finds that you are not adhering to the undertakings you made, they will inform the Traffic Commissioner. The result of such report will likely be calling you to a public inquiry to find out why.
It is always advisable that you take legal advice before the public inquiry. Why? Because if you cannot demonstrate a level of compliance that the Traffic Commissioner wants to see, it’s likely that restrictive action will be taken against you and your licence.
This action can (and often does) include:-
- Imposing extra conditions to your licence
- Reduction of the number of vehicles/trailers you can operate
- Damage/removal of a Director/Operator’s repute
- Disqualification of Company Directors
- Imposing regular site visits by DVSA