Don Bur curtainsider

Operators are being urged to review their tachograph management systems amid reports that the DVSA is ramping up roadside checks and scrutinising companies' operating procedures. The agency is also making greater use of remote audits of haulage firms' compliance systems, with a subsequent file being submitted to a traffic commissioner (TC). Laura Hadzik, transport lawyer at Backhouse Jones, said: "We are getting a lot of operators contacting us regarding roadside checks of their vehicles.

It would appear that the DVSA is being very active at the roadside and operators are receiving prohibitions and fixed penalty notices. We are also finding those roadside checks are triggering subsequent requests by the DVSA for the operator to send tachograph data or charts to the agency." Hadzik said companies should be ensuring their analysis was up-to-date, procedures are robust and infringements are being dealt with, as well as any specific use of Covid-19 relaxations.

"We are also aware that the DVSA is being very active in conducting work-based assessments. That's a tool that they've been using throughout the lockdown period. You'll normally receive a letter from the DVSA requesting that you submit a description of your systems and specimen documents to it for review.

It will then assess them and  prepare a report that identifies any shortcomings and invites you to respond to those shortcomings. "The final report is then submitted to the TC with a very real likelihood of a public inquiry if it's anything other than satisfactory." The solicitor warned operators to ensure they provide detailed responses to these DVSA requests. "We are finding, all too often, there's too little detail provided in the response and operators are finding themselves called to a public inquiry for issues that could have been easily avoided had their response been more comprehensive," she said.

Hadzik added that TCs were also being active and issuing an increasing number of call-up papers. "These aren't providing a hearing date, they are simply putting you on notice that you will be called to a hearing in due course," she said.

"Don't ignore these and simply wait for the hearing date to be provided to you in due course.

You must use the opportunity you've got to address the issues now and the TCs will expect that's what you're doing.

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