11 things you MUST do to run a compliant transport business

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

As a transport business operator you have certain undertakings that you must adhere to in order to remain compliant. The undertakings themselves are terms and conditions and if you break these terms it can mean serious consequences for you and your business.

Here are 11 things you MUST do to keep your transport operation legal and adhere to the undertakings you agreed to when you were granted your operator’s licence.

1.Take an active role in the day to day running of all aspects of the transport side of your business and keep up to date with the latest legislation.

Remember this? The laws relating to the driving and operation of vehicles used under this licence are observed. Well it means that you must adhere to the undertakings of the declaration of understanding and agreement when gaining your ‘O’ Licence.

2. Ensure you have a formal, auditable process in place where tachograph data is collected, analysed and corrective action where required.

You agreed to do this….The rules on drivers hours and tachographs are observed, and proper records are kept and that they are stored, also that records are readily available on request. The operator licence holder is expected to have a good understanding of tachograph legislation and drivers' hours rules so if you don’t it’s time to get some training to make sure you’re running your operation legally.

3. DO NOT EVER overload your vehicles and trailers

The undertaking said to ensure vehicles and trailers are not overloaded and you agreed that you wouldn’t, so don’t! Overloaded vehicles could be dangerous to other road users. Take precautions by making use of the UK’s public weighbridges. There are many public weighbridges throughout the UK that can be freely used to determine the weight of a vehicle.

Weigh your vehicle when un-laden to determine the maximum load which that vehicle can carry. A list of public weighbridges in your area can be found on your local trading standards website. It is the responsibility of the vehicle operators and drivers to ensure vehicles are not overloaded.

4.DON’T BREAK THE SPEED LIMITS – Have a written procedure in place that all your drivers must adhere to.

It’s common sense and the undertaking you agreed to says That all vehicles operate within speed limits. Speeding opens the possibility of action being taken against your ‘O’ Licence.

It's easy to simply say "don't speed" but how can you ensure your drivers comply? It’s important to have a written procedure in place that drivers are required to follow. Not only does it provide a route with which to take disciplinary action if necessary but it also provides some evidence to the Traffic Commissioners that you were acting proactively should problems arise.

5. Put in place a suitable maintenance regime and use a reputable maintenance provider that you can trust.

The Undertaking stated that Vehicles and trailers, including hired vehicles and trailers are kept in a fit and serviceable condition. It is a legal requirement to have a suitable maintenance programme in place when operating vehicles, including the maintenance agreement and maintenance interval that you agree to with a suitable provider. This should still be in place even if your vehicles are hired.

Make sure your maintenance interval is appropriate for the level of work your vehicles are doing. TIP: If you are hiring a vehicle, ask for a copy of the previous maintenance check sheet. The vehicle provider is obliged to give you it and you can then ask for confirmation that previous defects listed have been rectified.

6. Make sure all drivers are fully trained on how to carry out a Daily-Walk Round Check and how to complete a defect report.

You have to make sure you do this, you agreed to this undertaking To ensure drivers promptly report any defects that could prevent the safe operation of the vehicle or trailer and that all defects are recorded in writing. All drivers are expected to carry out pre-use inspections and defect reporting, they are expected to have the ability to do this effectively. “I didn’t know” is not an excuse! It is a requirement that the processes in place are fully auditable and records are kept accordingly and made available to inspectors upon request.

Make sure your drivers know how to carry out a walk-round and complete a defect report, it’s really simple but often forgotten and can lead to a huge headache for all involved.

7. Have a formal filing system that ensures easy and quick access to documentation and keep everything for a minimum of 15 months

You agreed that you would ensure you are keeping full records for a 15 month period for all drivers’ reports of defects, safety inspections, routine maintenance and repairs to vehicles. All these records need to be available on request. All documents need to be made available to DVSA inspectors upon request so have an effective filing system in place to ensure you can find them if needed. All documents must be retained for 15 months.

8. Tell the truth when it comes to how you operate your transport business

The undertaking states that In respect of each operating centre specified, that the number of vehicles and number trailers kept there will not exceed the maximum number authorised at each operating centre. (This will be noted on the licence). When you apply for an operator’s licence, you state the maximum number of vehicles and trailers that you will be operating at (each of) your operating centre(s); this determines the amount of financial standing you have to show to support your application and can influence the decision to approve your requested location for an operating centre. With this undertaking you are agreeing that you will not operate more vehicles or trailers than you have applied for. If you have any changes to your transport operation make sure you inform the DVSA. This can be done online. Always make sure you keep your licence up to date or you risk some serious trouble.

9. Only operate from your approved operating centre.

You agreed that you would not use an unauthorised operating centre. The undertaking you agreed to said. An unauthorised operating centre is not used in any traffic area. As an operator licence holder, you must provide details of where you will be operating vehicles from; this is known as an operating centre. The location you choose for your operating centre is given much consideration by DVSA and the Traffic Commissioners. You are only permitted to use operating centre's that are specified on the licence. They’ll be some serious consequences if you’re found to be operating from an unauthorised site.

10. Declare your convictions or face the consequences

The undertaking states that You will inform the traffic commissioner against yourself, company, business partners, company directors and nominated transport manager/s named on the application. On the application form there is a section that asks for information about any criminal convictions awarded to the persons mentioned. When considering a licence application, DVSA will carry out extensive background checks on people involved in the business and if certain criminal convictions are found, the decision to grant an o-licence may be affected. If DVSA discover convictions that aren't listed on the application, your application again might be affected. You also undertake that in the future, you will inform the Traffic Commissioners of any criminal convictions gained by the people mentioned in the undertaking.

Make sure you declare all unspent criminal convictions for all Directors, owners and Transport Managers and provide as much information as possible on the application form. Also make sure the Traffic Commissioner is notified of any new criminal convictions awarded to the people mentioned in the undertaking.

11. Keep the DVSA and Traffic Commissioner informed

You can see that the traffic commissioner is big on communication. They want to know of any changes that may be occurring in your transport business. Make sure you tell them because you agreed That you will ensure that you will notify the traffic commissioner of any changes within 28 days, EG: proposed changes to maintenance arrangements. A change in the financial status of the licence holder (Liquidation etc) or a change to the limited company status or partnership that may affect the licence.

By agreeing to this undertaking you are obliged to inform then Traffic Commissioners in writing (within 28 days) of any formal changes to you business, maintenance arrangements for your vehicles or financial status of your business.

So there you have it, 11 simple things you can do to stay legal! It sounds easy enough but can often be over-complicated and the information you need can be hard to find.

To make your life easier attend any training that may help you, take advantage of any seminars on legislation and subscribe to receive notifications with regards to legislation, tips to stay legal etc. It’s only easy if you know how!

We offer a range of affordable eLearning courses to ensure your organisation remains compliant. We have courses for drivers, office staff, transport managers and operator licence holders. You can find courses from just £10, CLICK HERE to view our full range of online courses and make sure you are compliant today.

Need help? Give us a call on 01406 424500 or send us a message online. We’re here to help and guide you every step of the way.

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