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Applying for an O-licence

Anybody who operates goods vehicles above 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight for commercial purposes on UK roads requires an O-licence - this covers hire or reward hauliers, businesses that run their own fleets (own-account operators), and local and public authorities. A licence is needed even for short-term rental vehicles hired for as little as one day. The best guide to this is the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) guide for operators (GV74).

Vehicle checks and maintenance requirements

Maintenance requirements vary dramatically according to the type and number of vehicles and the type/s of operation. Traffic Commissioners give considerable importance to the subject of vehicle maintenance and fleet checks. An O-licence would not be granted if a Traffic Commissioner considered that inadequate arrangements were in place to properly look after the vehicle(s).

Working Time Directive (WTD/RTD) explained

Although most workers in the UK are governed by the main Working Time Directive (WTD), those in the transport sector were not included and are instead covered by two further sets of working time regulations – the Horizontal Amending Directive (HAD) and the Road Transport Directive (RTD).

Defences and exemptions

What are the main exemptions and defences under UK domestic drivers’ hours law? Drivers’ hours and working time laws together incorporate many different exemptions and defences.

Weights and dimensions: vehicle plating

The European Union sets permitted weights and dimensions for vehicles on international journeys within the EU. National governments can also set their own limits for domestic journeys. Goods vehicles must carry a plate showing permitted or authorised axle and gross weights.

HGV testing and MoT testing

It is an offence to use an unroadworthy vehicle on the road. The Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is responsible for enforcing the law. It is actively involved in HGV and trailer testing and employing examiners, who conduct yearly roadworthiness tests, hold roadside spot checks and inspect operators’ own maintenance records. The Traffic Commissioners may take into account the number of annual test failures and roadside prohibitions incurred when an operator applies for an O-licence variation.

The EU drivers' hours rules explained

New Drivers’ Hours Rules (Regulation (EC) No 561/2006) came into force on 11 April 2007. The objective was to bring the practices of EU member states closer together and thereby contribute to better road safety for all. The information set out below will tell you exactly what you need to know:-

Load security

Insecure loads are a danger to the public and overloading may make the vehicle difficult to control and therefore dangerous. The load does not have to actually fall off a vehicle for an offence to have been committed.

Special types (STGO) and abnormal loads

The Special Types rules permit “abnormal indivisible loads” to be carried which exceed the weight and/or dimensions contained in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and Road Vehicles (Authorised Weight) Regulations 1998. A variety of unusual vehicles such an engineering plant or military vehicles, whose design and function prevent compliance with the Construction and Use Regulations, can be used on public roads in certain circumstances.