Vehicle Maintenance Inspections

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Vehicle Maintenance Investigations

When it comes to commercial vehicles, be it trucks, buses or coaches, the importance of vehicle maintenance cannot be understated. Incidents, such as wheel losses and/or MOT failures are likely to be perceived as indicators of an underlying poor maintenance regime.

These incidents could cause the holder of an operator’s licence to be visited by the DVSA, who will carry out a full review of that operator’s maintenance systems, following which they will decide whether to refer the matter to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner for consideration. The Traffic Commissioner may, on receipt of that report, call a Public Inquiry.

Where you have been subject to a DVSA maintenance investigation and are concerned about the outcome, or have been called to a Public Inquiry due to maintenance failure or following a DVSA maintenance review, our solicitors can help. Contact us today by calling 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form and we will give you a call back at a convenient time.

How JMW Can Help  

Our solicitors are vastly experienced in providing assistance, advice and representation to both businesses and individuals in relation to vehicle maintenance investigations. We provide a high quality of service and offer pragmatic solutions to issues arising from vehicle maintenance investigations.

Poor compliance with regards to transport not only risks attracting the attention of the Traffic Commissioners, but can also lead to potential criminal prosecutions being brought by the police and/or DVSA.

We are familiar with both the regulatory areas as well as the criminal procedures. Often when one set of criminal proceedings end, the regulatory process starts. It is the wide nature of our expertise that allows us to offer a full service to those in the transport industry and devise commercially sensible and industry-specific solutions when a problem arises. 

About DVSA Maintenance Investigations

The starting point with any DVSA investigation will be to look at the condition of an operator’s paperwork and their paper trail showing how they follow their vehicle’s condition and any maintenance work carried out. This will include making sure that the vehicle has been subject to meaningful brake tests at the appropriate intervals.

Another important part of an operator’s maintenance regime - arguably the most important - is the driver, who will need to be aware and proactive in responding to defects they might find while carrying out their walk-around checks.

Other elements an operator’s maintenance systems should look at include:

  • Wheel security
  • Load security (for HGVs)
  • Tyre maintenance
  • Facilities
  • Inspection intervals

If a Traffic Commissioner sees an operator at a Public Inquiry with maintenance systems that aren’t up to scratch, this increases the likelihood of regulatory action being taken against that licence. This can include reducing the number of vehicles that an operator is authorised to run on the road at any one time, something that can be significantly detrimental to cash flow and the business.

How to Manage Vehicle Maintenance

In order to fulfil their legal obligations, operators must have an effective maintenance regime in place. This is likely to look different for each operator depending on the age of the vehicles, the type of terrain the vehicles work on, and/or the type of loads the vehicles carry. However, generally speaking, there are certain components that the DVSA would expect to see if they undertake a maintenance inspection. To find out more about, take a look at this blog post.

Examples of responsibilities that an operator must fulfil include:

  • Declaring the time period between vehicle maintenance inspection dates to the Traffic Commissioner - this is usually between four and 12 weeks, depending on the condition of the vehicles and the mileage covered
  • Conducting a ‘first use’ inspection before putting any newly-purchased vehicles on the road to make sure there are no existing defects on the vehicle from any previous owners
  • Sharing information on any defects with their maintenance provider as well as any other necessary people, such as the transport manager
  • Ensuring there is a clear audit trail on how any defects will be or have been rectified and records should be kept in vehicle files
  • Organising brake tests following vehicle maintenance inspections and providing evidence of those brake test results
  • Making sure drivers carry out daily walkaround checks to check and account for the entire vehicle - drivers are legally responsible for the condition of vehicles while they are on the road, but operators are also responsible for managing those drivers appropriately
  • Ensuring their drivers are completing the necessary CPD requirements, possibly by attending training courses on specific subjects, e.g. completing daily walkaround checks   

Talk to Us 

If you need advice on adhering to your responsibilities in relation to vehicle maintenance, or are facing regulatory investigation/action from the DVSA or Traffic Commissioner, our road transport solicitors are here to help. Contact us today by calling 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form and we will give you a call back at a convenient time.