Traffic Commissioners to scrutinise agency driver arrangements

Senior Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt, has warned operators that it would be a mistake to assume that Traffic Commissioners will not scrutinize agency agreements or arrangements. Where the use of agency drivers is circumventing the various rules that govern driver agencies or are being used as a front for self-employed drivers, the Senior Traffic Commissioner has made it clear that repute will be in question.

The decision marks a progression from previous cases where Traffic Commissioners and the appeal court have considered the use of self-employed drivers by commercial vehicle operators and concluded that the use of self-employed drivers is rarely legitimate. The appeal court have upheld the revocation of licences by Traffic Commissioners where operators have relied upon self-employed drivers. This latest decision demonstrates that operators need to be careful when engaging with drivers on an agency basis.

Whilst agency drivers have a place in the commercial vehicle sector, the Senior Traffic Commissioner made it clear that operators should not use agency drivers as long-term solutions, rather they are to provide temporary relief to deal with matters such as sudden or seasonal increases in work or a shortage of staff due to turnover or resulting from absences. Mr Turfitt referred to HMRC guidance which defines a temporary employee as “people that are contracted to a job for a limited period, and they are hired straight from the company or through a third-party agency that staffs for other companies.”

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Author: Transolva Group
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Office of the Traffic Commissioner – Operator Licences and Periods of Grace

Traffic Commissioners are aware that businesses can change rapidly and that these might impact on requirements of the operator’s licence.

This could be, for example, long term illness of responsible persons, a transport manager might leave unexpectedly, or your costs might rapidly increase resulting in less available finances to maintain vehicles. In these cases, operators can apply for a Period of Grace in order to allow time to fix the issue.

The Senior Traffic Commissioner has published a short article to help you understand what Periods of Grace are, the process involved to obtain one and why managing key dates is important.

Please take a few minutes to read it through so that you are prepared to apply for a Period of Grace should the need arise.

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Author: Transolva Group
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DVSA updating the HGV and PSV inspection manuals

From 1 April 2023, some changes will take effect in the HGV and PSV inspection manuals.

The changes have been made following feedback and review from our stakeholders.

What are the changes?

The main changes cover updates on:

  • Inappropriate modification
  • Free Rolling Tyres (FRTs) on front steered axles
  • Wheel flanges
  • Seat belt webbing
  • 1c Tachograph fitment
  • Flashing stop lamps
  • Trailer EBS conditioning process
  • PSV brake testing
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Author: Transolva Group
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Categories: News

Important message for all HGV operators

You may be aware of a recent legal decision made by the Upper Tribunal (found here, and in particularly paragraphs 31-38) where it was ruled that all goods vehicles in possession of an operator are deemed to be ‘in use’ and must be authorised under the operator’s licence.

The Traffic Commissioners are aware of a practice in some areas of the industry where operators have more vehicles in possession than are authorised. Operators have been specifying vehicles when carrying out a specific operation, and then exchanging them on the licence for another vehicle. One example was a pallet network removing one or two rigids each evening and replacing them with articulated lorries for the overnight trunk. A less blatant but still illegal example is where an operator with a licence authorising 20 vehicles, but who has 21 vehicles in their possession uses the spare vehicle as a replacement whenever one of the other 20 vehicles are being serviced or inspected.

This ruling means that operators must specify all goods vehicles in their possession, onto their operator’s licence even if they are not used on a public road all the time.

For some operators, this will mean a variation is required as there will not be sufficient margin on their licence. You can manage your operator’s licence here. Operating centres must have sufficient capacity for all vehicles.

In making the ruling, the Upper Tribunal has reinforced the principles of the operator licensing system, making sure that financial standing and resourcing are properly reflected and helping to ensure that a level playing field is maintained.

The Traffic Commissioners may consider taking regulatory action against a licence if an operator is found to have more vehicles in possession than authorised under it.

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Author: Transolva Group
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There will be new rules about towing a trailer or caravan with a car later in 2021. Find out below how the changes affect you.

The rules about what you can tow will not be changing on 15 November 2021. The change will be introduced at a later date, and as soon as possible. Sign up for email alerts to be told when the new date is confirmed. You must continue to follow the current rules until the law changes.

The rules on what you can tow are different depending on when you passed your car driving test.

The rules will change later in 2021. The new rules will still depend on when you originally passed your car driving test.

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Author: Transolva Group
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It’s quick and easy to apply and pay online for your digital driver tacho card!

You can now apply and pay online for your driver digital tachograph card with DVLA. It’s quicker and easier than a paper application.

The new DVLA digital service lets you apply, renew or replace a lost or stolen card in minutes and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Your new tachograph card will be issued by DVLA within 24 hours after applying online compared to 10 days or more if you post your application.

All you will need to apply online is your valid GB photocard driving licence and your credit or debit card.

After applying, you will receive an email notification from DVLA confirming your application, and you can choose to be updated on its progress by text message.

The driver digital tachograph card online application service can be accessed via GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/apply-driver-digital-tachograph-card.

Owing to the time they take to process, paper applications are taking longer than normal so if you do need to renew or replace your card, use the online service to get your card quicker.

You can contact DVLA here.

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Author: Transolva Group
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New information for London HGV operators on TfL’s DVS ‘Grace Period’!

Following extensive lobbying by some transport groups and the many operators who lobbied directly, Transport for London (TfL), has granted a ‘Grace Period’ concession to give HGV operators more time to fit the required “safe systems” in order to comply with the Direct Visions Standard (DVS).

For those unaware, the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and safety permit for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) requires operators of lorries over 12 tonnes gross vehicle weight to apply and obtain a permit to enter or operate in Greater London, or you may receive a Penalty Charge Notice.

This gives HGV operators who register with TfL before 1st March 2021 a “defined” 90 days to enable them to comply with the DVS requirements and are now experiencing delays in supply and fitting.

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Author: Transolva Group
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From 1 January 2021 – Blind spot stickers mandatory in France

We were unaware of this but from 1 January, buses, lorries / trucks and trailers if towed, above 3.5 tonnes will be required to carry blind spot stickers in France. Although the IRU has protested against this unilaterally proclaimed measure, it would have been good to be prepared.

The IRU called upon the European Union to intervene against the French measure, but given the time this was announced, with Brexit and the then Christmas / New Year break, little change could have been expected. We can only assume that the French measure has therefore taken off as of 1 January as planned. Here are the rules as announced by France:

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Author: Transolva Group
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Updated guidance: tyres over 10 years old & updated Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness

In December, we told you that tyres aged over 10 years will be banned on the front axles of lorries, buses, coaches and all single wheels of minibuses (9 to 16 passenger seats).

The law comes into effect on 1 February 2021.

Updating our guidance

To help vehicle operators and those who work with them, we’ve published updated versions of the:

You can read Section 8 of the updated documents to find out how the procedures and standards on the condition of tyres will change from 1 February 2021.

The manuals also give guidance on tyre age markings and set out the deficiency categories for these items at annual test.

A change table listing all the changes in the manuals is also available to view.

We’ve also published an updated version of the

Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness.

The existing publications are still online and in use until 1 February 2021.

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Author: Transolva Group
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Vehicle testing in England and other information from the DVSA

On 4 January, the government announced a new national lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus.

You can read more about the new national lockdown on GOV.UK.

What this means for vehicle operators

Heavy vehicle testing can continue under the new national lockdown with COVID-19 secure measures in place.

We will continue to provide the vehicle standards assessors needed to test heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs) safely.

Our Network Business Managers will work with ATFs to manage any local impacts from COVID-19 on our service provision.

You should continue to manage the regular maintenance and inspection schedule for your vehicles and trailers. This is a legal requirement under your operator’s licence.

The government has issued guidance on wearing face coverings and guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, which is published on GOV.UK.

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Author: Transolva Group
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Reaffirmed changes to the Driver CPC periodic training!

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) periodic training is to be monitored by DVSA to ensure drivers are not unnecessarily repeating training as part of the 35-hour requirement.

This follows a review of Driver CPC training and recommendations made by the European Commission which the Government has adopted.

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Author: Transolva Group
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