VOSA wish to inspect my vehicles and maintenance records. How should I prepare for this?

Current legislation permits an Inspector from VOSA to visit your premises at anytime and demand sight of vehicles and maintenance records. On occasions your local Vehicle Examiner may give you advance notice of the intended visit, which will allow you time to prepare.

Usually you will be asked to provide a sample of your vehicles for inspections as well as 15 months service and daily defect records.

How should I prepare ?

1. Have a full preventative inspection carried out on the vehicles to avoid any defects being detected which may result in a prohibition at the inspection. The VOSA Inspector may comment on the fact that the vehicles have clearly been "prepared for inspection" as opposed to being presented in their true state, but it is far better to avoid the possibility of prohibitions being attracted
2. Where possible offer your newest vehicles for inspection unless the Inspector specifically asks for your older ones
3. Clean and wash down the vehicles.
4. Scrutinise your maintenance records to ensure they are all in order. Many Operators instruct an outside third party with an expertise in Operator Licensing to carry this out
5. Ensure you have a 15 month run of service sheets, presented well in individual files for each vehicle. Where service sheets are missing see if your garage retained copies and insert copies or at the very least insert an invoice from the garage to show the service was done. Missing sheets can lead to VOSA assuming that the vehicle has not been serviced
6. Ensure you have a forward planning chart in place setting out at least the next service dates as well as mot and calibration dates (ie: other key maintenance dates)
7. Ensure you have a 15 month run of daily defect sheets (one for each day of operation), presented well in individual files for each vehicle
8. Ensure that your defect sheets have a section for " rectification of defects" which should always be signed off following repair. If not order new books.
9. Remember that omissions on service sheets and defects sheets such as no signature, tyre treads or brake tests not recorded are not items which you can go back and fill in at this stage. These are contemporaneous documents and you should always check these immediately after the event (ie after the service) and deal with any omissions at that time.
10. Ensure that all the records are readily available at the time of the Inspection and can be easily found in the Transport Office by the VOSA Inspector
11. Ensure that your transport manager or the individual who deals with the maintenance systems is present at the VOSA inspection
12. Be cooperative

The Inspection will be marked "UNSATISFACTORY" if defects are found on the vehicles or gaps in the service and defect reporting history are reported. These will be viewed as a potential breach of the Operator Licence to keep the vehicles fit and serviceable, to maintain them at specified intervals and to ensure there is s system for daily detection of defects. This finding will be reported to the Traffic Commissioner for disciplinary action quite often at a Public Inquiry.

Practical advice on managing your Operator Licence is provided by Elizabeth Caple, Transport Law Solicitor. elizabeth.caple@blueyonder.co.uk
0117 9075699 0781 441 4374

Off-road driving - new EU rules ( by Tim Ridyard)

Regulation 561/3006 applies to the 'carriage by road' of goods..., or passengers.

Carriage by road is defined in Article 4 as 'any journey made entirely or in part on roads open to the public by a vehicle, whether laden or not, used for the carriage of passengers or goods.

The interpretation of this by some seems to suggest that if any driving on a given day is 'in scope' driving then any off-road driving recorded (for whatever purpose) counts towards the daily driving limit. But is this correct? If the journey is complete why should subsequent 'off-road' driving count? Is it not entirely seperate?

E.g. lorry drives towards destination on main road, enters private road and completes journey ( all driving counts as driving time) but subsequently (as a seperate and unrelated off road driving phase) the driver unhitches his trailer, moves his tractor unit or drives off road around the farm. The VOSA approach suggests it will not regard this as 'driving time' but rather other work.

Is this not surely the correct interpretation? Simply because the new regs define 'driving time' as any time recorded by an analogue or digital tachograph does not surely mean all off-road driving on a given day counts as such if some public road driving has taken place. The key is surely the word 'journey' in article 4 and whether the off-road driving is a part or link of the 'journey'.

When a journey is regarded as complete may be the subject of case-law in due course - that is my interpretation of the new provisions. If anyone thinks otherwise then......answers on a postcard please.....this is real, developing law.

Tim Ridyard is a Solicitor and Partner at Ipswich-based Barker Gotelee Solicitors.