5 MORE Quick and Easy Ways to Lose Your Operators’ Licence
Last month’s article “5 Quick and East Ways to Lose Your Operators’ Licence” generated a lot of positive feedback. So much so, that I’ve been asked to provide an update. With that in mind, here are: 5 MORE Quick and Easy Ways to Lose Your Operators’ Licence. This time, the focus is on maintenance, drivers’ hours, and road safety.
6) Dodgy Daily Defect Reports
On a frosty winter’s morning, few drivers relish the prospect of a full walk-around inspection of their HGV or PSV. The temptation to sit in a warm cab and just tick off the boxes on the driver defect report can be a strong one.
– Don’t do it!
Traffic Commissioners have made it clear time and again that a proper driver defect reporting system is crucial. It’s up to you as an operator to make sure it is carried out.
If you’re unsure what happens at a Traffic Commissioners’ Public Inquiry, check out our article: Traffic Commissioners’ Public Inquiry – 7 FAQs.
7) No Proper Tachograph Analysis
As an operator, you are required by law to regularly download and analyse your drivers’ tachograph cards and vehicle units. This is the only way you can find out if drivers’ hours rules are being followed. The Traffic Commissioner will expect you to have “continuous and effective control” over all aspects of your licence. Key to this is ensuring your drivers never go over their hours and do not get tempted to pull their cards.
One of the first questions you can expect to be asked in a DVSA interview under caution, is what your procedure is for downloading tachograph cards and units.
For more on DVSA interviews under caution, see: Being Interviewed by the DVSA – 5 Things You Need to Know.
8) Overloaded and Insecurely Loaded Vehicles
All commercial vehicles have weight limits, and exceeding them is not only dangerous, but a criminal offence. As an operator it is your responsibility to ensure you keep within your weight limits. Remember – this includes both the overall weight and the axle weight.
If a fatal accident occurs involving one of your overloaded or insecurely loaded vehicles, as the operator you could find yourself in the dock charged with manslaughter.
9) Transport Manager in Name Only
Holders of a Standard National or International Operators’ Licence must have a Transport Manager. This is not just for window-dressing. A Transport Manager is a fundamental part of your transport business. He or she is expected to exercise “continuous and effective management of the vehicles on a day to day basis.”
As an operator it is your responsibility to ensure that your Transport Manager does just this.
If you are your own Transport Manager this rule still applies. If you are a little rusty (perhaps you have Grandfather Rights), then get yourself on a reputable Transport Manager Refresher Course as soon as possible. It will pay dividends. Get in touch if you need help locating one.
10) Running Behind on Your Maintenance
All operators, whether Goods Vehicle or PSV licence holders, must ensure their vehicles undergo regular preventative maintenance inspections (PMI’s). At the time your licence is granted you will be given by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner a set number of weeks between each inspection – Don’t run over!
If called to a Public Inquiry you can expect the Traffic Commissioner to study the periods between your PMIs, and you should expect some difficult questions if they are not as they should be.
The Good News:
The good news is that help is on hand. If you have concerns over your operators’ licence, or even if you just want to be able to sleep more soundly at night, you’ve come to the right place. We can arrange for an expert transport consultant to help you get your house in order, and even carry out a full “stress test” compliance audit of your systems.
If you find yourself facing a DVSA investigation, or have been called to a Public Inquiry before the Traffic Commissioner, our specialist transport lawyers at Smith Bowyer Clarke can prepare your case and represent you. Get in touch to find out how we can help.