The Road to Commercial Vehicle Safety

As the owner or user of a commercial vehicle, the last thing you need is the vehicle breaking down or being delayed or impounded because it is deemed defective at a roadside check.

Owners of larger commercial vehicles or trailers with a design gross vehicle weight exceeding 3,500 kg or a bus with eight seats or more, are duty bound to ensure that the vehicle is subject to regular inspections and maintenance and repairs to rectify defects relating to the vehicle are carried out by a person who has the necessary skills and qualifications.

You must always make sure that your vehicles are roadworthy and safe.

The new Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness)(Vehicle Maintenance and Repair) Regulations 2013 require vehicle owners to:

develop and put in place systems for the regular inspection and maintenance of vehicles;
ensure that the frequency of inspections and maintenance takes into account factors including age, mileage and condition, wear and tear and manufacturer’s guidelines arrange that inspections, maintenance and repairs are carried out by a person who is a suitably qualified person;
put in place driver daily walk-around checks and reporting arrangements; and retain documentation concerning the repair and maintenance of vehicles for two years for inspection by an authorised officer.

Authorised officers from Bureau Veritas, the RSA’s appointed Technical Service Provider are now undertaking inspections at vehicle owner premises to check compliance with the Regulations.

Operators will need to show the authorised officer that there is scheduled servicing, inspections and vehicle repairs to prevent roadworthiness issues occurring. This is much more than simple oil-changes or greasing, this is about vehicle safety inspections, lubrication, adjustment, cleaning, testing, repair and replacement of worn parts.

Vehicles become unsafe if they are not properly maintained. Maintenance and repairs are only as good as the person performing it; shortcuts must not be taken. Vehicle owners need to make sure that the persons undertaking maintenance and repairs whether in-house or contracted out to a third party garage has the requisite skills, qualifications, experience and equipment to do the job.

A daily walk-around check is a key step in an effective preventative maintenance system. The vehicle owner is required to train the driver to conduct the check. A driver does not need to be a trained mechanic to carry-out the daily walk-around check. The check should only take a few minutes to complete.

Where a driver of a vehicle or combination of vehicles discovers a defect affecting the vehicle or combination, the driver must, as reasonably practicable after discovering the defect notify the owner of the vehicle or combination of vehicles whether electronically or in writing of the following:

A detailed description of the defect

The time and date of discovery of the defect; and
Any temporary corrective measures taken by the driver to mitigate the effect of the defect

As regards enforcement, the RSA is using an educational and advisory approach until September 2014 and thereafter, other enforcement tools will be used to ensure compliance which may include prosecutions of operators. The RSA Guide to keeping your commercial vehicle roadworthy contains a range of information to assist operators and can be downloaded from the RSA website www.rsa.ie and is also available at commercial vehicle testing centres.

The RSA have produced three information videos on the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Reform Programme which are available on “www.cvrt.ie http://www.youtube.com/rsaireland

Video 1 will provide you with a general overview of the reforms and tell you about the important changes to the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Test system.

Video 2 will highlight the changes that are taking place for anyone who owns or operates a commercial vehicle or fleet, why these changes are important and what owners and operators of commercial vehicles are required to do as a result.

Video 3 video is aimed at owners and operators of commercial vehicles and will provide a more in-depth overview of the changes to the system.

A properly maintained vehicle has lower operating costs than a poorly maintained vehicle. If a vehicle is running poorly, it is prone to costly breakdowns, higher fuel cost, driver complaints, delays at roadside checks as well as creating an adverse image for you and your business. Apart from the road safety benefits from safer vehicles, implementing proper maintenance systems has several advantages for vehicle owners not least maximum vehicle availability, longer vehicle life-span and increased residual value when the vehicle is being sold-on.

For further information please see www.CVRT.ie