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OUS ACCIDENTS concern I in the transport and ibution industries. The ic image of "juggernauts" ot have been improved by it fatal accidents so soon the 38-tonners appeared on 3h roads. The cause of all a accidents should be ished: d the French meat lorry ia serious defect when it ghed into a row of houses in h London?
d the brakes fail on the lorry :h ran into the festival ession in the Midlands? as there a mechanical re on the vehicle which two women and olished a house in north shire?
ie mechanical state of these (s must be intensively stigated to determine if the itenance had been ected and contributed to e accidents.
d vehicle maintenance and planned inspection and icing schedules are essential edients to a transport rator being allowed to :inue using road vehicles to y his company's product, or )ntinue in business as a lier. Section 62(4c) of The isport Act 1968 says that "a on applying for an
rator's licence shall give iculars of the facilities and ngements for securing that icles listed in the application be maintained in a fit and ,iceable condition".
a Licensing Authority is not ;lied with the facilities iared on the application, then nust refuse to grant a ice.
ntenance standards: islation is to be found in: The risport Act 1968— Sections 70; The Road Traffic Act 1972 — Sections 43-59; Goods Vehicle (Plating & Testing) Regulations 1971; and Construction & Use Regulations 1978 and subsequent amendments.
The responsibility for "safety" comes before any other for efficiency, economy and level of service in distribution. "Safety in operation" means setting maintenance and inspection standards so as to avoid as far as possible any injury to persons or damage to property. This should always be the first responsibility, and will from time to time conflict with other requirements. Planned maintenance and inspection: The reason for legislation is primarily to ensure that vehicles are kept in a safe and roadworthy condition when used on the highway. The Transport Act 1968 requires "users" of goods vehicles to take steps not to permit a vehicle to be driven in an unsound condition. The Road Traffic Act 1972 (Section 59) requires regular inspections and detailed written records showing by whom and when the inspections were made, together with details of any adjustments and repairs carried out'.
Department of Transport guidelines say: 1. A positive check is to be made at predetermined intervals of time or mileage on those items which affect vehicle safety (listed in the Goods Vehicle Tester's Manual; HMSO).
2. Personnel carrying out maintenance inspections must be fully aware of the significance of any defects.
3. Personnel responsible for these checks should have the authority to ensure that defects are rectified and to order unsafe vehicles to be taken out of service.
4. Written records must be kept .showing: when and by whom an inspection was carried out; the result of that inspection; when and by-tvhom the remedial work was carried out; and full details of this work.
Section 59(1b) of the Road Traffic Act 1972 gives the Minister power to make a Regulation requiring such records to be retained by a transport operator for a period of 15 months ...This Regulation has not so far been introduced, but an operator applying for an 0-licence is asked "if he will retain all maintenance records for a period of 15 months?"
To answer "no" would mean the refusal of a licence; to answer "Yes" becomes a binding obligation on the operator if the licence is granted.
5. Under-vehicle inspection facilities need sufficient light to examine individual components at close range, and if necessary, handle them. Under-vehicle inspection must be able to be done efficiently.
6. Where maintenance arrangements are "contracted out", the operator (the holder of the 0-licence) will still be held responsible by the LA for the quality and the frequency of inspections.
7. A system of vehicle defect reporting by the drivers of goods vehicles must be provided, and these defects should be recorded on the defect report and signed by a responsible member of the maintenance staff. The defect reports will form part of the maintenance record system.
8. The mechanical condition of hired vehicles or trailers is the direct responsibility of the "user" — the "user" is defined as the "driver" and "the employer of the driver".
Four main options are open to the fleet operator to meet the required maintenance and inspection standards: • Establish full workshop facilities to deal with all inspection and maintenance requirements.
• Have no workshop facilities, and contract out all maintenance requirements to garage agencies.
• Have a "mix" of these two options by either contracting out part of the fleet for all the maintenance, or arranging for certain types of repair to be carried out by vehicle repair agents.
• Enter into a truck contract hire agreement, with a full maintenance provision built into the contract.
However, it is the user of those vehicles who carries the ultimate responsibility for the roadworthiness of the vehicles and their compliance with the C and U. When the maintenance is contracted out to a repair agent, the holder of the 0-licence is alone responsible for the standard of maintenance and for the keeping of written records.
It is no defence in law to state that an outside garage failed to carry out the inspection and repair.
Those operators who contract out are advised to obtain a written contract or letter of intent from the repair agent, and this should list all the guidelines issued by the DTp.
The only way to "opt out" of the responsibilities of maintenance is to hand over the whole transport operation to a third party, and for that company to provide not only the vehicles but also the drivers. In this case, the 0-licence would be in the name of the company providing the transport service.
The responsibility placed on the operator is "high". Even if the maintenance is contracted out, it is important that there is within the transport administration "a person" with the skills and technical knowledge to ensure that the vehicles are "safe" when being used by the company and driven by company personnel.
• CMwill be looking at brakes in greater detail in a later issue.