What are the mistakes that licence holders make most often that can lead to enforcement action?
Commercial Motor magazine published a list last month of the top ten mistakes most commonly made by operators – often because they fail to understand what Traffic Commissioners expect an operator to do to stay compliant.
1. Receiving a prohibition and filing it away without investigating the cause and putting a system in place to stop it from happening again. The investigative process should be documented in writing. If several prohibitions are issued in a short space of time, the operator must write to the local OTC outlining the reasons and the preventative measures that have been implemented.
2. Failing to review Preventative Maintenance Inspection sheets to confirm that any defects have been signed off as rectified.
3. Failing to ensure rectification work is recorded on the Daily Defect Sheet when a fault has been recorded by the driver. This must be signed off and dated. If an external contractor has done the repair, the invoice should be stapled to the sheet.
4. Failing to notify a Traffic Commissioner about a change in company directors.
5. Failing to apply for a new O-licence when a sole trader or partnership forms a limited company.
6. Failing to notify a Traffic Commissioner about a notifiable conviction, especially when it’s a DVSA prosecution. This must be done in writing within four weeks of the conviction, ideally with an explanation for the cause and evidence of the steps taken to stop it from happening again.
7. Applying for an increase in a licence without ensuring the business is fully compliant before submitting the application – ideally, through an independent audit or by checking OCRS, MOT pass rates and roadside encounter history online.
8. Failing to continuously monitor external maintenance contractors, to make sure the paperwork is completed correctly and on time. Roadworthiness declarations must be signed and brake checks recorded. PMI sheets must be properly reviewed, ideally in writing, including an investigation with a driver and mechanic if a fault has been found. PMI sheets should be returned with the vehicles rather than when an invoice is provided at the end of the month. MOT pass rates should be monitored and failures investigated with the maintenance provider.
9. Failing to place a VOR sign in the cab of vehicles that cannot go out on the road. This information should be recorded on the forward planner as well, and keys should not be left where drivers can easily access them.
10. Failing to use the information provided by tachograph analyses. Infringements should be investigated, documented in writing and, if necessary, further training, disciplinary action or workload adjustments actioned. Many operators also fail to run missing mileage reports and/or lead-in reports.