Hauliers should be fully audited before they are issued with an O-licence in order to weed out companies that have practically no systems in place to ensure compliance, according to the RHA.
It said the risk of another incident such as the Bath tipper truck tragedy could never be eliminated, but more could be done to reduce the chances of a reoccurrence.
The trade association’s call came as the owner and mechanic of the company whose HGV went out of control and caused the deaths of four people in Bath in February 2015 were sentenced. Grittenham Haulage owner Matthew Gordon was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, while mechanic Peter Wood received a custodial sentence of five years and three months.
RHA policy director Jack Semple said: “We are calling for the auditing of all HGV operators, so they will be audited shortly after they get their provisional, or interim, licence.
“A full licence would be granted subject to a satisfactory audit.”
Semple said the current O-licensing system worked “pretty well, overall” but that it was almost 50 years old and it needed updating.
“Most vehicles are larger and heavier,” he explained. “Operating pressures are greater than they ever have been and, above all, expectations in terms of standards and compliance are greater than they ever were.
“All you have when you apply for a licence is a bit of paper saying that [you] will comply with the rules. A lot don’t even know what the rules are.”
He added that the audit should also be conducted every five years.
The FTA has raised the prospect of traffic commissioners (TCs) relying on risk profiling when handling licence applications or variations.
A spokesman for the Office of the Traffic Commissioner said: “The legislative requirements for granting a goods or public service vehicle licence are clear and applications are scrutinised closely to identify concerns or issues that require a TC to examine the proposed operations further, whether on the papers or at a hearing.
“In respect of variation applications, where they meet a certain criteria, the process includes an assessment by DVSA of roadworthiness and traffic compliance to determine whether intervention is required prior to a decision on the proposed change in operations.
He added: “In their strategic objectives, TCs have set a target to reduce the processing times for compliant applications so they can focus their regulatory activities on those who pose the greatest risk.”