Moving On September 2013 - VOSA's newsletter for the HGV and PSV industry

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Making VOSA data public

Image of jigsaw piece held against the sun

Last time we surveyed operators, we asked if the provision of performance information for operators and vehicles might support better compliance across the industry. Over 80% of you agreed that making this information publicly available could encourage greater levels of compliance.

We have put together a short survey that you can use to feed back your views on the data you would find useful. You can also take this opportunity to raise any questions or concerns. It's very simple and will only take a few minutes to fill out. Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey – your responses will help us with our future plans.

Complete the survey now.


A better way to book your IVA

Image of IVA trailer

Individual Vehicle Approval – or IVA – for multi-stage build trailers will come in on 29 October 2013. But no matter what type of vehicle you want to have approved, there are some things that you can do to get your IVA test appointment as promptly as possible.

VOSA is experiencing higher than expected volumes of applications for the whole IVA scheme and has put in place measures to meet expected approval timescales for processing applications and issuing a test date. VOSA is keen to put the customer at the heart of this work and is actively working with industry trade associations to gain their memberships' views. We will keep you updated on progress.

To find out if you need IVA, take a look at the vehicle approval advice on GOV.UK. 

Submit your application early

Submit your application as soon as you have the details of the vehicle. You must also make sure you include all of the supporting documents, including any for the first stage of the build, with your application.

Double-check that you’ve answered all the questions on your form before you send it – we have to chase up any unanswered questions, which will delay your application.

If you have any questions about the application, first check the guidance notes on the GOV.UK website.

Set up a pre-funded account

We offer a pre-funded account option for customers if you are likely to use our services on a regular basis. By keeping your account in credit, you can make prompt payments, which will speed up the process.

Model report

If you decide you need a model report, make sure you allow plenty of time to take your vehicle to a designated technical service to generate the data we’ll need to create one. VOSA is not responsible for this part of the process.

You will need to allow extra time if your application needs a model report, as this could add up to 10 days onto our process once we get the test data from the technical service. But you must send us a test application before we can create the model report.

Combine your applications

And finally, did you know that if your vehicle also needs an ADR (carriage of dangerous goods) inspection, we can do this on the same visit as the IVA if you send both ADR and IVA applications in together?

Read more information about IVA on the GOV.UK website.


Insecure about load security?

Image of load securing strap

The topic you want to know most about during our visits to operator sites is load security – how we apply the rules and what drivers can expect at the roadside. We’ve addressed the most common questions here, to share our responses with our wider Moving On audience.

What is a secure load?

A secure load is attached to the vehicle so that it will not fall off or affect vehicle stability and pose a risk of danger or injury to other road users.

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 state that ‘…the weight, distribution, packing and adjustment of the load of such vehicle or trailer shall at all times be such, that no danger is caused or is likely to be caused to any person in or on the vehicle or trailer or on a road.’

So, here at VOSA, we expect a load to be secured to the vehicle bed to prevent 100% forward, 50% sideways and 50% movement to the rear.

Image of load security matrix

Internal cargo straps on curtain-sided trailers

You can use internally fitted straps hanging from the rails of a curtain-sided vehicle to secure a combined load and pallet of no more than 400kg in weight. The ideal solution is one strap across two pallets from rave to rave of the bed of the vehicle. You may need more straps if there are not enough fitted to the vehicle or trailer.

Use of sheeting

You will need to sheet unsheeted, open vessels – such as skips – and bulk-carrying vehicles when carrying loose loads. If the load expands over the height of the sides of the vessel, you must use additional security.

VOSA’s enforcement

We will issue a prohibition and fixed penalty of £100 for any load found to be insecure. You can contest the prohibition and fixed penalty in court, by completing Part 2 of the fixed penalty notice and returning it to our Fixed Penalty Team in Swansea. Full address details are on the notice.

We have also supplied a load security matrix. This is a chart that will help you to work out what kind of security you need to apply to different types of load – and what our response will be if you fail to meet the standard. This is the matrix that our own officers use, so everyone is using the same information to work out how secure your load is.


VOSA closes fee consultation

VOSA closed our consultation on 2013 fee proposals mid June. We introduced a digital response on this occasion and in total received a fourfold increase in responses.

VOSA’s Head of Regulatory Change and Fees, John MacLellan, said: ‘The outcome of the fee consultation for HGV and PSV testing, operator licensing, other VOSA services and some Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA – responsible for licensing and testing vehicles and drivers in Northern Ireland) services is currently being analysed. It will be published once ministers have considered the views and what action they intend to take.’


Simplifying the heavy vehicle test

Image of heavy vehicle over testing pit

VOSA has completed our investigation into simplifying heavy vehicle test procedures. The aim is to reduce the burden on both operators and VOSA without compromising road safety or the environment.

Option to jack

We have concluded that the steered axles on trucks, buses and some trailers can be correctly assessed by using the heavy duty wheel play detectors and feeler gauges without jacking the axle – similar to the practice used by most of Europe.

But not every vehicle can be assessed this way, so where necessary, an examiner will have the option to jack the axle to make an assessment. We have also identified that some vehicles with independent front suspension can only be tested properly by jacking. So, for a small number of vehicles jacking will continue.

Emissions test

There is an extremely low failure rate for the emissions test.  Our investigation showed that in most cases a visual assessment would give exactly the same result. Current diesel smoke meter (DSM) technology struggles to cope with modern, clean engines. The European Commission is looking at new testing equipment for the future to test for smaller particulate matter and oxides of Nitrogen.  So, until new equipment is available we will be restricting the use of DSMs to those vehicles where smoke levels appear marginal. Any vehicle that fails the visual emissions test will have a metered test. Vehicles submitted for reduced pollution or low emissions tests will always receive a DSM test.

Simplify

The conclusion of our investigation and after consulting with manufacturers and trade bodies is that we will be simplifying the test by allowing examiners the discretion not to jack steered axles or conduct a metered smoke test.

Making the change

We will monitor and analyse the introduction of these changes, which are scheduled from 1 October 2013. The heavy vehicle inspection manuals will be updated when these changes are introduced.

Email the VOSA Customer Service Centre for further information on these changes.


Mechanics and valets benefit from Driver CPC exemptions

Image of driver holding out CPC card

The Department for Transport will very soon introduce a regulation outlining two new exemptions from the requirement to hold the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification.

The first exemption benefits both mechanics and valets delivering vehicles as long as:

  • no goods or passengers are being carried
  • the vehicle is not being used for hire or reward
  • driving HGVs or PSVs is not the driver’s main job
  • the vehicle remains within 50km of the driver’s base

The second exemption benefits mechanics and applies as long as the vehicle is being driven to a pre-booked roadworthiness test.

VOSA response

Between 10 September 2013 and the date when the new regulations come into force for PSV drivers with acquired rights, VOSA will:

  • not prioritise pursuing Driver CPC infringements against people who would be exempt once the new regulations were introduced
  • not issue fines or penalties to those people

VOSA will take enforcement action against other drivers – and their employers – who should have a Driver CPC but who fail to comply.

Read the Department for Transport press release on GOV.UK.

Read more about the Driver CPC on GOV.UK.


Braking point

Don’t let your brakes reach breaking point – read our advice on the most common problems we come across and how to avoid letting them affect your journeys.

In addition to being one of the major causes of PSV prohibitions, braking defects are the number one cause of HGV and trailer prohibitions in the UK. They make up 10% of all HGV and 20% of trailer prohibitions issued.

It goes without saying that a well-maintained braking system is essential to operate a safe vehicle. Good operator maintenance systems and driver first-use checks should spot and deal with defects before they reach the point where we have to issue a prohibition.

Replace cracked discs

Brake disc fractures are the biggest problem on HGVs, totalling 19% of the brake prohibitions and 9% of trailer prohibitions. As general guidance, we will issue a prohibition if a brake disc fracture extends through the disc surface to the ventilation cavity. You should closely monitor the condition of heat cracks on the surface of brake discs, as they can quickly deteriorate. If there are cracks running from the edge of the brake disc to the centre, the disc must be replaced. You should consult the manufacturer’s guidance on brake disc wear tolerances, when deciding whether a brake disc is serviceable.

Image of cracked brake disc

Taking up the slack

Another common defect is excessive brake actuator travel, which is normally associated with poor maintenance of automatic slack adjusters (ASAs).

All HGVs, trailers and PSVs over 3.5T from 1995 are fitted with ASAs that must work correctly. If they need regular manual adjustment, they are not working correctly. ASAs are subject to wear, so you will need to assess them regularly and replace them as necessary.

You can read the VOSA guide to maintaining automatic slack adjusters on the GOV.UK website.

Driver responsibility

The driver should be the first person in your preventative maintenance system to identify potential braking faults, normally by a warning light or noise when the brakes are applied. Therefore, operators should ensure that drivers are aware of defective brake symptoms, and that they know how to identify and report problems. 

Drivers should be familiar with the warning lights on their vehicle – there are many variations to warning lights and their sequences. If a warning light indicates a potential fault, the driver should make sure the vehicle is safe to drive, or risk a prohibition and the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) points that go with it.

Losing air

Air leaks on the braking system are another common defect that drivers should notice during the first-use check or as they apply the brakes. If the driver hears an air leak when pressing the foot brake, there could be a serious problem – get it checked!   

Well managed vehicle and trailer maintenance will support safer roads and help operators to avoid the repercussions of a poor OCRS.    

If in doubt - check it out! 

If the driver is in any doubt whether to use the vehicle, they should check with the Transport Manager or the person responsible for vehicle maintenance before they begin their journey.


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VOSA at Tow Show

Tow Show logo

VOSA will attend this year's Tow Show at Telford International Centre on 19 and 20 September to speak to recovery operators about their work and to promote our new Guide for Recovery Operations.

We will be at the Allianz/Green Flag stand and are looking forward to the chance to speak to recovery operators about the issues concerning you.

Find out more about the Tow Show online.


Higher roadside penalties

Offences against roadworthiness, overloading and drivers’ hours rules now result in higher penalties at the roadside. Fixed penalties and financial deposits for vans, trucks and buses increased on 16 August 2013:

  • a £30 fine is now £50
  • a £60 fine is now £100
  • a £120 fine is now £200
  • a £200 fine is now £300
Image of VOSA officer talking to truck driver

VOSA Chief Executive Alastair Peoples says ‘These new penalty levels are intended to ensure penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence and are consistent with those in other areas of offending.

I know the majority of operators and drivers work within the law, but those who don’t need to know there are now increased financial consequences.’

Maximum deposit

The maximum deposit that VOSA can take at the roadside from offending overseas drivers has also increased from £900 to £1500. Penalty points will not change.

Read our Guide to Graduated Fixed Penalties and Financial Deposits on the GOV.UK website for more information.

Read more about fixed penalties in our Roadside vehicle checks for commercial drivers guide.


HGV road user levy

We are one step closer to a new, time-based user charge for all HGVs using the UK road network in April 2014. Last week, Northgate Public Services were appointed to develop and operate the foreign operator payment system for the HGV road user levy.

Image of HGV approaching toll booth

The foreign operator payment system will allow foreign operators or drivers to purchase the levy before they enter the UK. The system will also create a database so that we can identify hauliers who have not paid.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said:

‘Getting the foreign operator payment system right will be crucial to the success of the levy.’

For UK vehicles the levy will be paid alongside vehicle excise duty – which will be reduced in line with the levy to make sure that most UK operators see no rise in the total amount they pay. It will also be collected through existing agency channels, so there will be no additional administration cost.

Find out more about the HGV road user levy.


GOV.UK is the new home for VOSA

VOSA has moved all our online information to the new GOV.UK website – the new single home for all government services and information.  

New web address

Our corporate web pages have been redirected, so you don’t need to update your bookmarks, but you might want to make a note of the new address www.gov.uk/vosa

You’ll notice that the new website looks very different from the one it has replaced. The look is one obvious difference, but many of the other significant changes are less visible.

Topics and policies

You can now see information from multiple government departments grouped by topic, rather than by department. For example, you can see how our work contributes to the Department for Transport policy on making roads safer.

GOV.UK is focused on your needs, not the needs of government. It has been planned, written, organised and designed around what you need to get done, giving you a single point of contact for all of your government services. The result is simpler, clearer and faster.

Visit the new VOSA pages at www.gov.uk/vosa.


New ADR photocards

All UK ADR drivers whose driver training photo card was issued since 29 October 2012 will receive a replacement card in the next 10 weeks.

A new format for these cards was agreed at a recent meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and ADR Contracting Parties.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority – or SQA – despite the name, administers photo card certificates for dangerous goods driver training on behalf of the Department for Transport across the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The SQA will be working closely with enforcement agencies and with trade associations to make sure that drivers, hauliers and training providers are aware of the charges.

SQA will coordinate the re-issue to make sure that all drivers who need one get their replacement card within 10 weeks. There will also be a 6 month grace period while the new cards are being issued, so that no one is disadvantaged by the change.

There will be no cost to drivers or operators for the new photo cards.

Sue Macfarlane, Head of Specialist Awards and Services at SQA said, ‘Some minor amendments are needed to ensure complete compliance with the recently clarified points, namely the date format and the black colouring of all the lettering on the card.

‘Certificate holders and their employers can be assured that SQA has put in place a dedicated team to ensure hauliers and drivers have support. The team responsible will be sending out detailed instructions to every photo card certificate holder asking them to destroy their old card only once they have received their replacement and asking them to acknowledge this.

‘If by Friday 4 October 2013 a certificate holder has not received their replacement, they should contact the team directly at adr@sqa.org.uk and their new certificate will be fast-tracked to them within 5 working days.’