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.