Trailers: no changes after safety review

Posted 21/08/2019 : By: Tim Ridyard

A recently published Government report has been considering the safety of trailers to consider whether mandatory testing of all of them should be introduced as well as mandatory registration, writes Tim Ridyard, head of Ashtons Transport team. It has decided not to pursue either based on the research carried out and its evaluation.

The study concentrated on trailers above 750kg and its conclusions are as follows:

  • trailer defects are not a major cause of injury incidents, although 20 accidents involving injury or death were ones where trailer defects were a contributory factor and such defects would have been identifiable on testing (the date used for the report covered the whole of 2017)
  • where any issues do arise the more prevalent problems with trailers tend to be tyre defects and hitching problems within what are low incident levels as a proportion of trailer traffic
  • around 50% of light trailers checked by DVSA were non-compliant in some way when checked at random stops with an immediate prohibition rate of 29%. The figure for heavier trailers (from 3,500kg) is that 20% are non-compliant but immediate prohibition rates are imposed only in 5% of cases
  • if compulsory testing of light trailers were to occur there might be some safety related benefits but at a cost to users of about £75m in fees; generally the case for testing is not persuasive 
  • whilst it might assist in some crime reduction there would be no safety advantage in introducing domestic trailer registration.

The government has decided instead to tackle the issue of poor trailer compliance through targeting and publicity. The area of most concern relates to lighter trailers including those being drawn outside the scope of operator licensing.

NB the above does not affect the position with regard to international trailer usage and the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018. Its provisions state registration is required (for commercial trailers with a gross weight over 750kg and all trailers with a gross weight over 3,500kg) for journeys to or through any EU Member State that has ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention. 

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