If you are an operator, you must decide whether to undertake your own safety inspection and maintenance work in-house or to contract all or part of the work to someone else. If you decide to provide your own safety inspection facilities, you must ensure that they are adequate for the job.
Facilities should include:
- undercover accommodation for the largest vehicle in the fleet. This is required to ensure that safety checks can be conducted satisfactorily in all weathers (depending on fleet size the building may need room for more than one vehicle at a time);
- tools and equipment appropriate to the size and nature of the fleet;
- an adequate under-vehicle inspection facility;
- adequate lighting;
- access to brake test equipment (e.g. a roller brake tester, decelerometer);
- access to headlamp test equipment;
- access to steam or pressure under-vehicle washing facilities;
- a safe working environment.
If an operator fails to maintain vehicles in a safe and roadworthy condition with the facilities provided the Traffic Commissioner may take regulatory action.
Source: Page 25 (Section 5) of the DVSA Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness.
To effectively fulfill our responsibilities to each other and to the Traffic Commissioner, I propose the following system for records keeping and auditing:
Tachograph and driver’s hours records
I recommend using a company called Tachomaster. Please visit their FAQ’s at tachomaster.co.uk/faq to familiarise yourself with how it works. Once you upload your tacho records to their server you can either give me access directly to your reports on their website or, alternatively, you can generate Word or PDF documents with your drivers’ hours and email them to me. Here’s a sample such document with driver’s hours. The cost is £1 per week per driver. When you sign up, you get 28 days free so you can test drive the system.
Maintenance records, including daily walk-round checks and 6-weekly vehicle safety inspections
All other records can be scanned and kept in Dropbox: dropbox.com. In Dropbox you can create separate folders (directories) for each type of record and give me access to the folders that I need to be able to see, such as daily walk-round checks and 6-weekly inspections. I recommend naming your files in the format: YYYY-MM-DD-description.pdf, that way they will be sorted automatically by date. Maintenance records must be kept for a minimum of 15 months.
I recommend you to download and install the Dropbox app on your computer. They also have a web version which is useful when you are not on your computer, but a downloaded and installed application works better.
DVSA recommends this sheet for daily driver walk-around vehicle checks. Notice where it says “Write NIL here if no defects found” at the bottom. Even if no defects are found, that sheet should be filled in and kept anyway with “NIL” written in that square. Here is a DVSA guide sheet on how to perform a HGV Drivers’ Walk Around Check correctly.
DVSA recommends this sheet for 6-weekly safety vehicle inspections. Your maintenance provider may have a similar form.
To see an example on how you can keep records in Dropbox and give me access to them, click here. You can generate a link like that by right clicking on the Dropbox subfolder that you want to share in Windows Explorer (or Finder on Mac) and selecting “Copy Dropbox Link”. This works after installing their app. I got the sample files for vehicles from a document called “Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness” which describes how the Traffic Commissioner expects you to keep your vehicles in good condition.
Specimen Maintenance Planner (also known as Calendar)
You are required to have an effective scheduling system in place so that you know and don’t forget when your next safety inspection is due for each vehicle. As an example, DVSA provides a “Specimen Maintenance Planner” as annex 7 on page 49 of the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness. You can use that page. But I think a more effective way is to use Google calendar or Outlook and setup email reminders a few days before an inspection is due. You need to set up only one event for each vehicle and make it repeat every six weeks.
Parking and overloading your vehicles
Please be advised that it’s “very” illegal to park unauthorised vehicles at your operating centre as well as to regularly park your vehicles at unauthorised parking locations, even at your clients’ premises. I know people who have been fined thousands of pounds for doing so. If you need to regularly park your vehicles somewhere other than your operating centre, you need to apply to add that location as your additional operating centre. Overloading your vehicles is also illegal and you may be fined and the vehicle maybe prohibited from moving if it is found to be overloaded.
What records do I need to keep?
For a list of records that operators must keep please see this article.
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me 7 days a week 8am – 11pm.
If you’re a vehicle operator, your drivers might be stopped at the roadside by the police or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for vehicle inspections.
DVSA use the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) system to decide which vehicles should be inspected.
OCRS is used to calculate the risk of an operator not following the rules on roadworthiness (the condition of its vehicles) and traffic, eg drivers’ hours, weighing checks.
It’s more likely that your vehicles will be inspected if your OCRS is high.
2. How the system works
The Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) system is based on data collected by DVSA over a 3-year rolling period.
Data is taken from annual tests, roadside inspections and inspections at operators’ premises.
Scoring is split into 2 areas:
Roadworthiness: Data comes from vehicle tests (first tests, subsequent annual tests); ‘vehicle encounters’ (fleet check inspections at operator premises, roadside inspections)
Traffic Roadside: Data is collected from inspections and prosecutions (eg for drivers’ hours and tachograph offences, weighing checks)
As an operator you get points when a test or inspection finds a defect or infringement of the rules. The more serious the defect or infringement, the more points.
You’ll be given a score, which will be shown as R (red – highest risk), A (amber – medium risk) or G (green – lowest risk).
The guidance on the OCRS system explains how the scores are worked out.
You might have no score if DVSA doesn’t have any data for you from the past 3 years.
You can check your OCRS score, view test histories and roadside check reports online.
Operators outside Great Britain
DVSA has a non-GB OCRS system for operators based outside Great Britain. It’s based on data captured at the roadside – this is because there is no annual test or prosecution data available.
3. How your score can change
Because your Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) is calculated over a 3-year rolling period, it can change after inspections, tests or prosecutions against you.
DVSA calls these ‘encounters’. Your score could change if you:
- commit a new offence or have a defect recorded against you at inspection (this has a negative effect on your score)
- have a ‘clear encounter’ – eg you pass an inspection without any problems (this has a positive effect on your score)
If you’re prosecuted by DVSA you’ll get points from the date of prosecution, not the date of the offence.
The lower your OCRS is, the better.
Your score also changes as old encounters that previously counted towards your score no longer count once they’re not in the OCRS calculation period.
If you had clear encounters included in your score and these are now outside the calculation period, this might mean your score goes up. But if you had negative encounters included and these no longer count, your score might go down.
These are serious problems that will send you straight into the red score band for a set period of time.
Once this time is up, your score returns to whatever your base score is at the time. Your base score is your OCRS without the trigger taken into account.
There’s a list of offences that can send your score straight to red in the guidance on the OCRS system.
The impact of an offence or defect decreases over the 3-year time period.
For the first 12 months after the offence or defect, its score stays the same. After 12 months it falls by a quarter and then it’s halved in the final 12 months.
There are a number of ‘parameters’ that feed into your OCRS. DVSA sets these and can change them at any time – this has an impact on your score.
The parameters are:
- points for offences and defects
- points for prosecutions
- time weightings
- band thresholds (these determine whether you’re in the red, amber or green band)
- trigger events and time periods
The values for all parameters are available in the guidance on the OCRS system.
Maximum time according to regulations is 9 weeks.
Actual time depends on the complexity of the application and may take from 6 weeks to 3 months.
Your notice has to be published in a newspaper that is available in the area where your operating centre is located. An advert in a classified section under “public notices” will be enough, there’s no need to publish a more expensive display ad. You will need to submit the whole newspaper page where your ad is published with your application. The notice has to be published within 21 days before or after the date of your application. The following is a sample newspaper ad:
PUBLIC NOTICE WORDING – Replace underlined text in bold
Goods Vehicle Operators Licence
Your Transport Company Ltd of 10 Registered Street, Town, AB1 2CD is applying to use 15 Industrial Road, City, EF3 4GH as an operating centre for 3 vehicles and 4 trailers.
Owners or occupiers of land (including buildings) near the operating centre(s) who believe that their use or enjoyment of that land would be affected, should make written representations to the Traffic Commissioner at Hillcrest House, 386 Harehills Lane, Leeds, LS9 6NF, stating their reasons, within 21 days of this notice. Representors must at the same time send a copy of their representations to the applicant at the address given at the top of this notice. A Guide to Making Representations is available from the Traffic Commissioner’s office.
In order to obtain your own CPC as a Transport Manager, you will need to pass an exam administered by OCR. Exams are held 4 times a year: in March, June, September, and December. It consists of 2 parts:
- Multiple Choice (2 hours 15 minutes).
- Case Studies (2 hours 15 minutes).
Here’s one example (more are available here – In “Subject” select “Transport management”):
- Case Study Exam – Question Paper – March 2019
- Case Study Exam – Case Study – March 2019
- Case Study Exam – Answers and Examiner Report – March 2019
You can buy self-study materials here. That book is about 5cm thick, and it’s a stack of A4 sheets of paper printed on both sides. You are allowed to bring any paper materials to the Case Study part of the exam but not to Multiple Choice.
This book can help you in preparation for the Multiple Choice part of the exam, but it has many errors and many parts of it are badly outdated. Still, it is the only book of this type available so it’s better than nothing.
Watch our YouTube video with a multiple choice exam
Good luck on your exam!
An external transport manager can only work for a maximum of 4 operators with a combined total fleet of 50 authorised vehicles. Traffic Commissioners understand that various transport manager functions are often delivered by a number of individuals acting within a team. The nominated transport manager’s job is to manage the delivery of those functions as the transport manager retains ultimate responsibility. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of activity which might be expected of a transport manager:
- to manage, audit and review compliance systems to ensure that they are effective
- to review any shortcomings such as prohibitions and/or annual test failures
- to ensure that relevant changes are notified in accordance with operator licence requirements
- to keep up to date on relevant changes in standards and legislation
- to ensure that drivers hold the appropriate licence for the vehicle they are driving and a valid driver CPC qualification (DQC)
- to ensure that all records are kept for at least the minimum required periods
- to ensure compliance with the driving hours rules
- to ensure that vehicles and trailers are kept in a fit and roadworthy condition
- to ensure that safety inspections and other statutory testing are carried out within the notified O-licence maintenance intervals
This is what form TM1 says about Transport Manager’s responsibilities:
- The making of arrangements to ensure that drivers comply with drivers’ hours and tachograph rules and with speed limits;
- The making of arrangements to ensure that the vehicles are maintained properly, including the inspection of vehicles at the appropriate time and the action tak en to remedy defects found;
- The reporting and recording of vehicle defects by drivers;
- The method of compilation and the accuracy of all records, which must be kept for a period of not less than 15 months;
- The making of arrangements to ensur e that the vehicle/s are not overloaded;
- Ensuring that authorised vehicles will be kept at the authorised o perating centre(s) when not in use;
- Where appropriate, notifying the relevant traffic commissioner (in writing) of all prosecutions and convictions concerning the operator, the drivers and me within 28 days of the court hearing;
- Notifying the relevant traffic commissioner of my resignation;
- Any role that I have in:
- Verifying contracts and documents;
- Basic accounting;
- Any other role in safety procedures.
The requirements for a standard national and international licence (not restricted) demand that the applicant has sufficient funds to start up and run the business properly. As well as assets such as vehicles and premises, there must be enough working capital (such as cash, loan facilities or other assets which can quickly be turned into cash) to cover all the expenses which are likely to arise before any money is earned to meet them.
Applicants for standard national and international licences (not restricted) must show that they have available reserves of £8,000 for the first vehicle and £4,500 for each subsequent vehicle authorised. The word “authorised” is important. Operators must have these reserves for both vehicles in their possession and those on the margin.
Your available loans, credit cards and overdraft facilities also count towards these amounts, so it’s not only cash on your account. Money and credit available to your partners also count for limited companies and partnerships.
When you apply, these amounts must have been available to you during a 28 day period, the last date of which must not be more than 2 months from the date of receipt of the application.
This is how much you need to have for the number of vehicles you are applying for:
1 vehicle = £8,000
2 vehicles = £12,500
3 vehicles = £17,000
4 vehicles = £21,500
5 vehicles = £26,000
6 vehicles = £31,500
£4,500 for each additional vehicle
The Traffic Commissioner changes the numbers above slightly from time to time depending on the euro/pound exchange rate but they usually stay within the same range.
If the Transport Manager specified on a standard O-licence leaves or you wish to change your Transport Manager for any other reason, then the Traffic Commissioner must be informed, via the Central Licensing Office, using the form GV80A.
The Traffic Commissioner need not revoke the licence and may allow a reasonable period of time for the operator to find a replacement person who is professionally competent The maximum time which may be allowed by the Traffic Commissioner is 6 months. This may be extended to 9 months at the Commissioner’s discretion.
When a new transport manager is appointed (in many cases at the same time as you send your GV80A), a completed form TM1 must be submitted containing details of the professionally competent person and the signed declaration, together with original certificates confirming professional competence.
The operating centre is the term used in the regulations to describe the location of where the vehicle or vehicles are parked when not in use. The Traffic Commissioner will need to be satisfied that your operating centre(s) are suitable – for example, that they will be big enough, with safe access, and in an environmentally acceptable location. If you do not own the operating centre you may be asked to provide evidence that you are entitled to use it.
The best way to find an operating centre is through the Traffic Commissioner’s Operator Search website here. Search for transport companies by “Town name(s)” in which you’d like to base your company (pick a town that has a good number of industrial estates). Then, look up the addresses of their operating centres. Contact them or the yard owners and ask if you can use their yard as your operating centre.
Video: How to Find an HGV Operating Centre for Your Operator’s Licence
Other websites where you can search for or post a wanted ad for an operating centre: