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Key points of a good maintenance system


The DVSA recognises that operators of heavy goods or passenger carrying vehicles will not get everything right all the time. However, they do expect you to be vigilant and responsible. The penalties for and consequences of non-compliance to you the operator and/or driver – and to the general public – can range from the inconvenient to the very serious and, sometimes, to the catastrophic. You and your staff may be fined or prosecuted and your vehicles may be prohibited. At worst, you may cause serious injury or fatal accidents because of badly maintained vehicles

Use these important key points below as a guide to help you plan and set up a compliant and effective maintenance system for your vehicles.

1. A responsible person must undertake a daily walk around check, preferably immediately before a vehicle is used.

2. First-use inspections are essential for operators who lease, hire or borrow vehicles. These are especially important where vehicles and trailers have been off the road for some time.

3. Drivers must be able to report promptly any defects or symptoms of defects that could adversely affect the safe operation of vehicles. Reports must be recorded and provision should be made to record details of any rectification work done.

4. Drivers’ defect reports, used to record any faults and rectification work, must be kept for at least 15 months.

5. Operators must ensure that regular safety inspections are carried out.

6. Safety inspections must include those items covered by the appropriate Department for Transport annual test.

7. Safety inspections should be pre-planned, preferably using a time-based programme.

8. The system of safety inspections must be regularly monitored, especially in the early stages.

9. Any remedial work carried out as a result of safety inspections must be recorded.

10. The safety inspection record must include:

  • name of owner/operator

  • date of inspection

  • vehicle identity

  • odometer (mileage recorder) reading, if appropriate

  • a list of all the inspection manual items to be inspected

  • details of any defects

  • name of inspector

  • details of any remedial/rectification or repair work and by whom it was done

  • A signed declaration that any defects have been repaired satisfactorily and the vehicle is now in a safe roadworthy condition

11. On some types of vehicles and operations, intermediate safety checks may be necessary.

12. Records of safety inspections must be kept for at least 15 months for all vehicles, including vehicle that have been removed from the operator’s licence.

13. Staff carrying out safety inspections must be competent to assess the significance of defects. Assistance must be available to operate the vehicle controls as necessary.

14. There must be an internal system to ensure that un-roadworthy vehicles are removed from service, with someone responsible to take vehicles off the road.

15. Operators who undertake their own safety inspections must have the correct tools and facilities for the size of the fleet and type of vehicle operated.

16. All operators should have access to a means of measuring brake efficiency and setting headlamp aim. For vehicles showing signs of visible exhaust smoke a diesel smoke meter should be used to ensure that the level of smoke emission is within the legal requirements.

17. Operators are responsible for the condition of vehicles and trailers that are inspected and/or maintained for them by agents, contractors or hire companies.

18. Operators who have contracted out their safety inspections must draw up a formal written contract with an inspection agency or garage. Such operators should view inspection sheets and have a means of regularly monitoring the quality of work produced for them.

19. The dates when safety inspections are due must be the subject of forward planning. A maintenance planner or wall chart should be used to identify inspection dates at least six months before they are due. Computer based systems are equally acceptable.

20. Any system of maintaining roadworthiness of vehicles should be effectively and continually monitored.

21. Any changes by licensed operators to arrangements for safety inspections must be notified to the Central Licensing Unit without delay.

22. Drivers must be given clear written instructions about their responsibilities.

It is not enough to rely on a maintenance system alone, because this cannot ensure that vehicles are roadworthy. To ensure best practice, you will need to combine good quality maintenance practices and skills with supervision and effective management of the system.

There are tools available to help operators maintain effective management systems. These come in the form of operator compliance manuals, self-audit systems and having tailored management systems put in place for your organisation.

Transport Managers and operators can ensure they are equipped with the skills to carry out their role effectively by undertaking a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence.

Want FREE advice? Request a free telephone consultation with our UK lead consultant.

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139 High Road, Whaplode, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE12 6TX. Company No. 10315367  

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