High Maintenance

At the Commercial Motor Live conference in October 2012, senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell accused the industry of "doing nothing" about regulating workshops or mechanics.

Bell asked: "Why doesn’t the industry have a standard? At the moment, a maintenance contractor can set up with no experience and no knowledge of the industry and a mechanic who is trained to repair washing machines could become a truck mechanic."

She called for the industry to have one benchmark - akin to the Gas Safe Register - and claimed trade associations had provisionally backed the idea.

But could such a scheme really work?

Commercial Motor's operator panel members are split on the need for a system of accreditation.
Some believe it would drive up standards, others fear it would favour the big service operations geared up for coping with the red tape that goes with such initiatives, while driving out smaller firms that are technically proficient but struggle with bureaucracy.

Read Pat Hagan's article in the February 7 issue of Commercial Motor to find out the views of the panel.

Cycle safety report criticised by trade bodies

Road transport organisations have criticised the findings of a report into how cycling-safe vehicles used in the construction industry in London are.

The report, produced by the Transport Research Laboratory on behalf of Transport for London, highlights a range of problems with vehicle design, industry working practices and driver behaviour, which it concludes increases the risk of LGVs being involved in accidents with cyclists.

It recommends that more comprehensive research be carried out into cyclist blind spots in LGVs and how drivers use mirrors. It also calls for vehicle manufacturers to look at aspects of vehicle design that could be improved to specifically address problems with driving on London’s roads.

But Karen Dee, director of policy at the Freight Transport Association, said: “It makes a number of sweeping conclusions based on assumptions, and we would question the practicality and appropriateness of some of the recommendations.

"It must be recognised that this report looks at a small part of the picture. Conclusions about what these findings mean, and what actions should be taken, cannot be drawn in isolation of the wider picture.”

Road Haulage Association head of media relations Kate Gibbs: “We welcome anything that highlights possible solutions but as far as retrofitting equipment…it is unfeasible because of the cost.”