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Braking Bad

By: Dave Robbins

One of the things that transport operators need to focus on in 2018 is brake testing. That’s the view of DVSA enforcement officers and lead enforcement Traffic Commissioners. The latter are concerned that some transport operators haven’t learnt from the 2015 Bath tipper truck disaster – when faulty brakes resulted in the deaths of four people. The company boss and mechanic were subsequently convicted of manslaughter.
 
In the opinion of the Traffic Commissioners, too many operators are paying ‘lip service’ to brake testing. Some are not carrying out any testing and, in some cases where testing has taken place, record keeping is poor. Information in the November 2017 ‘Fleet Compliance Check’, compiled by the DVSA, added further evidence of a lack of inspections.
 
It showed that braking defects were the highest reported mechanical defect across all types of both British and foreign HGVs. Using a random sample of over 6,000 vehicles, test results showed that 28% of reported defects on UK trucks were brake related; for foreign trucks it was 33%. As for trailers, the UK figure was 44% and for foreign trailers, 42%.
 
In order to measure brake performance and overall braking efficiency the DVSA’s ‘Guide to maintaining road worthiness’ advises that a calibrated roller brake test must be carried out on vehicles and trailers at each safety inspection. The Guide adds that it is acceptable to test vehicles without trailers using an approved decelerometer. Whenever possible it is best to carry out tests on a laden vehicle. A full list of testing requirements and additional advice and instructions is in the ‘Guide’, which is freely available on the DVSA website.
 
In a joint statement issued by Sarah Bell and Kevin Rooney, lead Traffic Commissioners for enforcement, they commented: “This is not limited to a specific type of licence, size of operator or a particular sector, it’s across the board. Operators should carry out an urgent review of their brake testing regime – now. It should include an analysis of safety inspection records over the last 15 months looking at whether the type of test and the information recorded is sufficient.”  
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