Operators of larger commercial vehicles will be well used to the idea of stops and inspections by Vehicle Examiners from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). You may even of seen their teams out on the roads stopping commercial vehicles, not the Highways Agency Traffic Officers who deal with incidents on Motorways and trunk roads from their 4x4’s but the uniformed officers in their people carriers.
What is not so obvious is that the stops on heavy goods vehicles are targeted based on the previous performance of vehicles from that company, the system result’s in a green, amber ,red marking. Red meaning a poor previous record and a substantially increased likelihood of being stopped.
This system includes a mark for the percentage of the companies vehicles passing the MOT test first time. The implication is that if you look after your vehicles and inspect them as you are supposed to then the MOT should be a formality with a first time pass. The truth is that some areas are not easily tested by operators as they don’t have the required equipment, the brake roller test being the obvious.
VOSA are now spreading their net, as having looked at the figure for the less well regulated area of vans up to 3500kg (the obligatory Transit and the like) they realise that the first time pass rate is surprisingly low, the implication being that the vans are just driven without regard for safety until the MOT tester gives them the list of essential repairs. VOSA to put a stop to what they consider a dangerous practice and will now be looking to inspect smaller vans at the road side.
The answer for the operator is, if you don’t want to find yourself in court with stiff fines for the operator as well as the driver, to introduce a system of daily walk round inspections for driver with a record to be signed of defects found or a confirmation of no defects. Where vans are driven by those with little or no vehicle knowledge then a more thorough inspection based on the amount of use 6 to 10 weekly can nip problems such as tyre wear in the bud before it becomes a points issue.