Keeping the vehicles you operate in your business in a fit and serviceable condition is of fundamental importance.
A failure to maintain them can lead to serious consequences, not least criminal sanctions such as imprisonment and heavy fines. In the recent Bath Tipper case a company director and a maintenance contractor received long prison sentences for gross negligence manslaughter after serious brake failings caused multiple fatalities.
Under road traffic legislation there are a number of offences that may be committed where a vehicle is defective. The offence of dangerous driving can also be committed by driving a vehicle that is defective in some circumstances.
Every operator of commercial vehicles used under an operator’s licence undertakes to have proper arrangements in place to ensure their vehicles are safe. If this is breached, the business can be at risk of losing its licence or it being suspended or reduced in size (curtailed). Those businesses not requiring an operator’s licence should also maintain their fleet to the highest standards.
A sound maintenance system will have:
- regular vehicle inspections at pre-agreed intervals that will always be adhered to
- a planning system for inspections, annual tests, tachograph calibrations, etc
- brake performance assessments at every inspection
- a proper procedure for tyre security and re-torquing
- an excellent annual test history
- complete maintenance records covering the whole vehicle history
- a system of daily driver first-use walk round vehicle inspections, recorded in writing
- a system for auditing drivers to ensure vehicle checks are carried out correctly.
Not only do businesses have a duty to provide their own employees with vehicles and equipment in good working order but there are duties to third parties to ensure they are not harmed. The requirement to use only vehicles that are in a legal condition to be used on the road applies universally regardless of the size and type of the vehicles.
We can assist by discussing with you the systems your business currently operates and whether they are sufficiently robust.
We can also assist if things go wrong and action is being taken against your business in the form of an investigation or prosecution relating to vehicles that are effective in some way, e.g. defective brakes, steering or tyres, an insecure load or a failure to hold an annual test certificate.