With the relaxation of some lockdown measures likely to increase the number of commercial vehicles back on the roads, here are some pointers to help ensure your transport operation is safe and legal going forward. These take account of some of the recent government and Traffic Commissioner changes.
Ensure any vehicles not used during the initial pandemic period have a full PMI before being put back on the road. Ideally this should occur for unused vehicles even if a vehicle or trailer is still within its PMI interval as "parking up” of the vehicle may in itself affect roadworthiness.
Ensure the driver performs a thorough walk around check before he or she first operates the vehicle.
The Traffic Commissioner has allowed some tolerance where PMI facilities are not currently available to inspect vehicles. In this case, on the return to use, a vehicle could instead undergo an enhanced (and fully recorded) walk around check by a competent person (ideally a technician). I would, however, urge you to have a full PMI done wherever possible.
The 3 month suspension of testing to late June (currently) is still in place and any vehicle due a test since late March and during this period will automatically have its MOT record updated and extended.
It will be interesting to see if testing is further suspended in some way, as without it there may be an overwhelming demand for tests due beyond late June and once MOT centers reopen. This may be something you need to prepare for.
Drivers who have seen their CPC cards expire since 1 March still have the grace period allowing them to drive within the UK until 30 September , but should nevertheless still carry their expired card with them when driving. DVSA could ask to see this.
Medicals - The government has temporarily suspended the need for a D4 medical when renewing driving entitlements for drivers 45 years and over. These drivers should still renew but without the D4 part. Drivers will still be required to self-declare any medical conditions that may affect their ability to drive. Those with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed.
Any driver needing to utilise any of the current relaxed drivers hours measures should only do this as an absolute last resort and must ensure a record is made on the tacho print out to record the relaxation used and the emergency reason for this. DVSA are currently checking that such a record is being made and without it an infringement will be assumed.
Recording driving and working hours for previous or current furloughed drivers
It is important to accurately record furlough in your drivers’ hours and WTD records. This will also enable you to potentially reduce a driver’s average working week calculation.
- For EU/AETR drivers’ hours, furlough should be recorded as “Rest” so long as no other work is carried out.
- For WTD, furlough should be recorded as “Leave” for the first 20 furloughed days and at a rate of 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week. After 20 days no time needs to be recorded or accounted for and this in turn can be used to reduce the 48-hour average for that period.
Tachograph calibrations and inspections due to expire during the 3 month period from early April have been suspended and the calibration certificate will be automatically extended and you do not need to do anything. You will still, however, need to ensure the tachograph is operating effectively.
Internal Training / Vehicle familarisation
Some staff and drivers may benefit from a brief refreshment of the key compliance rules and procedures if they have been off work and away from driving for some weeks. Keep a written record of any training or toolbox talks given.
Ensure agency drivers are fully inducted on your policies and procedures before they start to drive. You need to ensure they are fully aware of your expectations and standards. Don’t assume they know these.
Furloughed Transport Managers
Ensure you have sufficient TM coverage in place to deal with the intended fleet size going forward and to meet the O Licence requirements. The starting point is that one TM can look after up to 50 vehicles. Any more than this, then consider what other compliance personnel could be utilsed to add support to each individual TM. This may be a useful option where you don’t want to have to bring in another TM who is currently on furloughed leave but need one TM to look after over 50 vehicles. The Traffic Commissioner should nevertheless be notified where the 50 vehicle rule is exceeded with the need to demonstrate what other compliance provision/support is in place.
If you recommence your transport operation but a required TM is unable to return to work you must make an application to the Traffic Commissioner for a Period of Grace or seek a temporary exemption, in order to continue operating without a Transport Manager.
The Traffic Commissioner is still expecting any express conditions or undertaking on the Operator Licence to be complied with but will entertain any written requests for extensions where absolutely necessary due to the pandemic. Audit undertakings in particular must be complied with but “remote” audits are permitted at present as an alternative. If safe distancing measures are in place then physical “on-site” audits can re-commence.
Communication with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner or caseworkers
The Office is still very much open but all communication must be done in the first instance by email.
New Licence and Variation applications
Again the Office of the Traffic Commissioner is still very much receiving and progressing applications in very much the normal manner. Applications may take slightly longer in some cases so please ensure any applications are made in good time. The Traffic Commissioner is also entertaining very urgent applications where Licences or increased fleets are required to deal the essential deliveries during the pandemic. Likewise applications are being considered for changes to Licences where Operators are seeing opportunity to grow or diversify their fleet when the main period of lockdown is over.
All of the above measures need to be approached with common sense. Some scenarios within your operation may require a little more thought or reporting to the Traffic Commissioner. If you need any further advice, please get in touch with us.