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  • Writer's pictureMartyn

Understanding the regulatory process

The road to public inquiry, and beyond...

Goods vehicle operators can find themselves trading as normal one minute, then dealing with a storm the next, because of something critical they have overlooked or ignored.

This frequently starts as a failed MOT, or roadside encounter with DVSA. A defect is found or tachograph offences are uncovered, for instance. Graduated fixed penalties may be issued for what are considered lesser offences, but more serious matters may result in prosecution and/or a report to the Traffic Commissioner.

DVSA may send the operator a desk-based assessment to complete, or a Traffic Examiner may visit the operating centre to conduct an audit of the compliance systems and investigate further before reporting to the Traffic Commissioner. This would be a narrow window of opportunity to start putting things right as best as possible and looking into what exactly triggered this process in the first place.

If the Traffic Commissioner (TC) deems it necessary, the director and transport manager will be called in to a preliminary hearing, or even a public inquiry hearing. Now matters are very serious, and the window to put things right to limit the damage is closing fast. If the operator sits and waits for a calling-in letter from the TC without taking action, the weeks leading up to the hearing quickly disappear. Come the hearing, the TC will want answers, so if an operator has little to say, the operator's licence, and potentially the entire business, hangs precariously in the balance!

What can be done?

At the earliest opportunity, it's vital to face up to what has happened and why. Looking into the issue, be it a vehicle defect or high instance of tachograph infringements, and what you have in place to manage these, will start to give you a roadmap to recovery. However, without an expert eye and with conflicting priorities within the business, this can be a problem in itself.

The solution?

An independent audit of your compliance systems measured against the undertakings of your operator's licence and the underpinning legislation will always give you the best chance of recovering from an unforeseen blow such as those described above.

For more insight, why not check out the below link:

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