As the road haulage sector prepares for Transport for London’s (TfL) new Direct Vision Standard (DVS) based HGV safety rules to come into force in October 2024i, Venson Automotive Solutions is calling HGV fleet managers nationwide to review and update safety and compliance measures to reduce risks for all road users, not just those in Greater London.
In a move to eradicate death and serious injury in the UK’s capital caused by HGVs over 12 tonnes, TfL is revising its permit scheme so that new vehicles must have a three-star DVS rating or be fitted with a range of safety systems.
Comments Simon Staton, Client Management Director for Venson, “TfL’s new HGV permit scheme, which focuses on maximising how much the driver can see directly through the vehicle’s cab windows of the area around the vehicle where collisions are most likely to take place, will go some way in reducing avoidable collisions.
“As HGVs have the highest rate of other road user fatalities per passenger mileii than any form of transport, operators of commercial fleets should always have an eye on all safety implications, with prevention being the best form of protection. Commercial fleet operators who communicate well with their drivers and implement daily checks to increase safety can go a long way to reducing their road risks.”
The UK’s shortage of HGV drivers and knock-on pressure to deliver stock in the fastest possible time increases the burden on fleet operators and drivers themselves. Nevertheless, a driver is legally responsible for the vehicle they are driving on the road and should carry out a basic roadworthiness check each day, or at the start of a new shift. These include checking lights, tyres, wheel fixings, bodywork, trailer coupling, load and other equipment, as suggested by government guidelines.
Along with daily walkaround checks, HGVs are subject to annual MOT inspections with the first being due just 12 months after the vehicle was first registered. Trailers with an unladen weight exceeding 1,020kg and featuring their own powered braking systems must also pass an annual inspection each year, again from 12 months after original sale.
Continues Simon Staton, “The economy is placing significant pressure on fleet operators and drivers, but safety cannot afford to slip through the net and every city in the UK needs to be safeguarded. In the event of an accident, a company must be able to prove that it has taken all necessary precautions to ensure that their vehicles remain in the safest possible condition. It’s also worth remembering that not only the police but the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have the power to stop and inspect vehicles when they are on the road if they feel they may fall short against standards. Ultimately though, while commercial fleets are concerned about business continuity, these simple safety checks can do so much more than keep a company running, they play a vital role in keeping death and serious injury off the road network.”
Six steps towards HGV safety and compliance
- Drivers must carry out checks to lights, tyres, wheel fixings, bodywork, trailer coupling, load and other equipment daily.
- All defects must be reported whether minor and easily rectifiable or major, rendering the vehicle off-road until repairs can be made.
- All safety and roadworthiness inspections and maintenance records must be documented and kept by companies for a minimum of 15 months.
- Drivers must also ensure that their Tachograph cards are downloaded each week with records kept by the company for two years.
- Ancillary equipment such as mounted forklifts, tail-lifts, loading cranes and fridges will also have their own need for inspections and servicing to keep them in a safe and efficient working order.
- Digital tachographs must be fully recalibrated after any changes to the vehicle registration number, after having any significant work carried out and/or every two years regardless.
Venson Automotive Solutions white paper, Operating Commercial Vehicles Beyond 3.5t GVW covers all the major areas of registration and on-going maintenance that fleet and transport managers need to consider.