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How to Stay on Top of Road Safety Compliance for Commercial Vehicles?

Ensuring road safety compliance in commercial fleets is more than just a box-ticking exercise. With a complex web of regulations and compliance to follow, knowing where to begin as a business can be a daunting prospect. Failure to adhere to these regulations results in hefty fines, legal complications and even the suspension of operations, which will not only severely impact your bottom line but harm your reputation.

It’s a matter of prioritising the safety of your drivers, vehicles and the general public. Commercial vehicles, as a result of their sheer size and weight, pose a significant risk if they’re not operated and maintained according to stringent standards. In this guide, we’ll explore how companies can observe road safety rules and mitigate safety risks on the road.

Legal Requirements for Commercial Vehicles?

Understanding legal requirements for commercial vehicles is the first step to managing this area of a company. Compliance spans a variety of issues, from individual employees to the vehicle itself, and it’s a process that requires people at all levels of the business.

Vehicle Inspections?

Regular vehicle inspections form an important part of maintenance, whether it’s checking the brakes or booking regular visits to the MOT centre to ensure the vehicle is working as it should. Periodic inspections are a legal requirement but it’s a good habit for businesses to add on additional servicing and check-ups, in between those compliance checks, and stay on top of any issues that could pose a safety risk to the driver.

Driver Training?

It should go without saying that all drivers should hold a valid licence for the type of vehicle they operate every day, but ongoing training is also important to ensure they stay on top of road safety best practices and driving laws. These are easily overlooked or neglected when you’ve been driving for long periods, but having regular testing will keep drivers alert to the laws of the road.

A study back in 2018 found that a quarter of motorists in the UK don’t know the correct order of traffic lights, and similar Highway Code basics, showing that ongoing training is vital for road safety – a driver’s licence isn’t enough to ensure accidents are mitigated.

Detailed Record Keeping?

Businesses need to stay on top of keeping detailed records for all aspects of fleet or commercial vehicle management, from who is using each vehicle to its maintenance, the training drivers have received and any accidents that have occurred. Only then can managers and health and safety professionals identify any common trends or issues. This is critical for risk management which is another legal requirement for any business operating vehicles. Records can help mitigate these problems and identify potential hazards, whether in the vehicle itself or from a staffing perspective, and allow a responsive plan to be in place ahead of accidents occurring.

Ethical Responsibility and a Duty of Care?

Anyone managing a team or running a business has a duty of care towards their employees and to the wider public if they’re on the roads. This legal and ethical responsibility means that drivers must adhere to the rules regarding the duration of time they can be driving, and how much of a break they need in between shifts.

This is particularly key to HGV drivers who often drive for longer periods and therefore need to limit themselves to 9 hours a day and no more than 56 total hours of driving in a week. Making sure shifts are managed properly and staff are given ample rest periods to prevent fatigue and resulting accidents.

Establishing a Compliance Programme?

Achieving and maintaining road safety conformance for a commercial fleet requires a comprehensive and well-structured compliance programme. This serves as the foundation for all regulation efforts, ensuring that any and all policies, procedures and responsibilities are clearly documented and defined, and consistently implemented across the organisation.

Develop a Compliance Policy?

This should be your first step, outlining the company’s commitment to adhering to all applicable regulations, as well as any specific procedures and guidelines that employees need to follow. The policy should then be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect any changes in regulations or industry best practices, as well as be implemented as a key part of onboarding processes for new staff.

Assign Roles and Responsibilities?

Once this is in place businesses need to assign roles and responsibilities within the organisation. This might involve designating a compliance officer or team responsible for overseeing the programme, or assigning specific duties to other personnel, such as maintenance technicians, dispatchers and drivers. On-road compliance isn’t one person’s job – it requires a group effort that everyone needs to help with.

Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspections?

Pre-trip inspections are crucial components of any vehicle maintenance process. Before each trip, drivers should conduct a thorough inspection of their vehicle, checking critical components such as brakes, tyres, lights and fluid levels. Ensuring the vehicle is safe to operate before the journey helps identify any potential issues that may require immediate attention.

Post-Trip Inspections?

Similarly, post-trip examinations empower drivers to promptly document any anomalies, malfunctions or defects that may have manifested during the course of the trip, and might otherwise be forgotten about.

By meticulously scrutinising the vehicle’s condition at all stages of use, drivers contribute to a comprehensive assessment process, enabling managers to remain proactive in their approach towards addressing emerging issues.

Maintaining road safety compliance for commercial vehicle fleets is an ongoing challenge that requires diligence, organisation and a proactive approach to stay on top of changing regulations. However, by establishing a comprehensive compliance programme, implementing robust maintenance and inspection procedures, and prioritising driver management and recordkeeping, managers can navigate this complex issue with confidence.

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