“The UK road haulage industry must set an example for road safety. Operators who are not adhering to essential safety standards should be sought out and removed from the industry.” That’s the demand from Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association.
When commenting about checks for new operators in January this year, Richard Burnett said: “In the interests of road safety the bar for road haulage operators must be raised. It is almost 50 years since the current O-licensing system was introduced and overall, it has served the industry well. But trucks are larger and heavier, operations are more demanding and expectations of competence and compliance with regulations are much higher than in the past.
“Mandatory auditing would flush out those operators that should not have a licence. It would be a decisive step towards minimising road safety risks and it would be eliminate much unfair competition faced by the great majority of hauliers who are working within the rules.
“There is a lot of focus at present on looking at haulage firms that already operating to high standards,” he continued. “The important issue for road safety – and fair competition – is to get to grips with those at the other end of the compliance spectrum. Auditing all operators achieves that, as well as validating the better firms.”
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency operator risk rating system is a tool that the DVSA uses to identify vehicles for on-road inspection – a system that the Road Haulage Association supports as it focuses enforcement activity on the least well run operators.
“But this is not enough,” concluded Richard Burnett. “The RHA remains firm in its call for all new operators to have a compliance audit within 6 months of operation. The DVSA abandoned their new operator checks a number of years ago and we do not believe existing practice based on filling in forms correctly is good enough
“DVSA need to be much more effective in using the resources they have. The highly skilled inspectors that DVSA employ do a great job on roadside inspections. Currently too many are diverted away from on road and site visit enforcement so DVSA can carry out routine lorry and bus MOT testing – a task that could be done by other qualified inspectors.”