Friday, August 27, 2010

Haulage Representatives Concur On Commercial Vehicle Testing

Debate Continues on Who Should Deem a Truck Safe
Shipping News Feature

UK – The debate over who should be responsible for testing and assessing Britain’s trucks for roadworthiness continues with the news that all of the major representative groups associated with haulage agree they wish to see major changes to the way freight truck and passenger carrying vehicle condition tests are administered. Currently the responsibility lies with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

The previous government’s plans to send VOSA staff into third party workshops to administer tests were slammed in a joint letter to the Department of Transport earlier this month from four organisations, the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA). In the letter the case for three possible scenarios were laid out.

As the four groups see it the industry itself should take a larger role in self policing to minimise costs with RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning saying:

“We (all four organisations) have arrived at a common view that the policy developed by the previous government, of having VOSA staff testing trucks and of tests being conducted as much as possible at third party workshops, will add unnecessary cost and complexity and will obstruct cost-effective testing.”

The industry bodies argument is that a return to the original system of only having tests carried out at VOSA’s own test sites is ‘the least practical and credible’ method. Opponents of this standpoint would say that these independent test sites meant that there was little or no room to avoid a complete and proper examination of a commercial vehicle.

The alternative options proposed in the open letter would be complete privatisation of testing, the selected candidates to possibly utilise current VOSA test sites whilst also using third party workshops or, as seemingly preferred by the industry representatives, a model following that used for car and light vans where individuals are approved as test centres and install the relevant equipment at their own sites.

This final option would suit the larger freight and passenger hauliers as they would already have workshop facilities on site to maintain commercial vehicle fleets and in addition be able to offer third party test facilities to smaller operators. Few ordinary garages would have the space, or the financial ability to install the equipment necessary to test a big rig.

The four trade organisations feel a system similar to that testing for cars and vans would lead to a further strengthening rather than a diminution of safety standards and, given the competitive element, a safety valve for testing costs. The letter to the Secretary of State for Transport Phillip Hammond MP can be seen in full HERE.