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Traffic commissioners call for urgent improvements on brake testing

Traffic commissioners call for urgent improvements on brake testing
The Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain are warning commercial vehicle operators to improve their approach to brake performance testing.

Their intervention comes as the issue of poor brake testing – or the complete absence of any checks – is appearing “far too frequently” during investigations by enforcement officers.

The regulators added that, despite the clear lessons from the Bath manslaughter case, operators are still paying lip service to brake testing. In many cases, there’s too little recorded on the test to offer a meaningful assessment. In others, no information is recorded at all. Operators are also failing to carry out testing at the required frequency.

“Traffic Commissioners are still receiving reports about a lack of effective and pro-active brake performance testing regimes,” Sarah Bell and Kevin Rooney, the Lead Traffic Commissioners for Enforcement, said. “This is not limited to a specific type of licence, size of operator or a particular sector – it is across the board. That is why TCs are highlighting the need for a change of attitude within the industry. There should be no compromise in any operator’s approach, no flexibility around standards.”

The DVSA Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness (2014 revision) makes clear that every safety inspection must include a metered assessment of the braking performance of vehicles and trailers. It adds that a road test method to assess the brake performance for all planned safety inspections will usually be inadequate.

Where deficiencies in brake performance are identified, either during use of the vehicle or trailer or at the safety inspection, a measured brake efficiency test must be carried out. This test must confirm that the brakes are performing satisfactorily before the vehicle or trailer can be deemed roadworthy.

The DVSA also publishes detailed guidance on how to prepare a vehicle for the brake testing element of the MOT.

Offering advice to the industry, Kevin Rooney and Sarah Bell added: “Operators should carry out an urgent review of their brake testing regime now. This should include an analysis of safety inspection records over the last 15 months, looking at whether the type of test and the information recorded is sufficient. They must also make sure their tests are planned in line with DVSA guidance and satisfy themselves that the vehicles and trailers running under their licence are roadworthy. We want licence holders to be sure their brake testing regimes are effective.”
Date posted: 13th, December, 2017