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Latest Update to Traffic Commissioner Covid-19 Guidance – 11th May 2020

Here is the latest round up of updates from the Traffic Commissioners’ Office:

The latest update to the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s COVIS-19 guidance for goods and passenger vehicle operators has been published, with the updated version of the document available here.

This new update focusses on two primary areas – first, a change in relation to the position that the DVSA vehicle examiners are adopting when it comes to the issue of roadworthiness prohibitions – and second, the latest in relation to the position the OTC itself is adopting on Public Inquiries.

Roadworthiness Prohibitions

Previous versions of the Guidance have included provision in limited COVID-enforced circumstances for operators to extend the stated regular safety inspection interval, whilst making it clear that road safety should never be compromised.  The rationale for this temporary relaxation is recognition that access to maintenance facilities is highly likely to be restricted for as long as the government’s social distancing and ‘lockdown’ measures remain in place.

For similar reasons, the DVSA has confirmed changes to the approach to be taken in relation to the issue of roadworthiness prohibition notices in certain circumstances.

Firstly, the DVSA has confirmed that it will not take any enforcement action for vehicles found operating with ‘in-service reported’ non-safety critical defects in circumstances where necessary parts and/or access to workshops are unavailable (operators are encouraged to consult the HGV and PSV inspection manuals for clarification on what constitutes a ‘minor’ or ‘major’ non-safety critical defect).  However, operators should note that:

  • No vehicle or trailer may be used with a serious or dangerous defect;
  • Operators need to keep records on vehicle maintenance files explaining and evidencing why any repairs have needed to be deferred; and
  • Any judgement regarding a vehicle’s suitability to be used in service must be made by a suitably qualified technician.

Secondly, the DVSA has confirmed a suspension on the issue of delayed roadworthiness prohibitions:  instead, any defects will be reported on an inspection notice, with a requirement for the operator to retain documentary evidence that any reported defects have been rectified in a timely manner.

Finally, the DVSA has also indicated that in certain circumstances, where a prohibition has been issued, it may be possible for the prohibition to be removed based upon the electronic supply of evidence that defects have been rectified, together with a new regular safety inspection report being provided (i.e. without the usual requirement for the vehicle to be subject to a DVSA inspection to remove the prohibition).

Public Inquiries

The previous version of the Guidance confirmed that if a Public Inquiry (or Driver Conduct Hearing) was to be adjourned, the operator or driver concerned would be notified.

The updated position, as set out in the latest version of the Guidance, is that no face-to-face hearings are presently being conducted while the virus outbreak continues, and any public inquiry which had been listed prior to 20th March 2020 has already been postponed.

Traffic Commissioners will have road safety issues firmly in mind, and where an immediate risk is identified, they will consider calling and holding a Public Inquiry.

Similarly, the Traffic Commissioners may decide to call ‘virtual’ hearings in appropriate cases where applications or outstanding regulatory matters are deemed capable of being dealt with via video-link.

Operators should not assume that any pending public inquiry will be held in abeyance until after the Covid-19 pandemic and present restrictions have been lifted: your case may be one of those that the OTC deems appropriate to be dealt with via video-link, and it will pay to be prepared.

If you have been called up to a Public Inquiry and need advice or representation, please get in touch with us on 01279 818280 (Mobile: 07912 073994) or click here to send an email.

 

11th May 2020