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DVSA Maintenance Investigations are Changing

03 September

The DVSA has today (1 September 2020) announced that its maintenance investigations – which are carried out to establish whether Operator’s Licence holders have suitable systems, facilities and arrangements in place to maintain their vehicles and trailers in a fit and serviceable condition – are changing.

DVSA conduct maintenance investigations in a variety of scenarios but they typically arise following the issue of an ‘S’ marked prohibition to a vehicle or trailer. Alternatively, a maintenance investigation may be completed at the specific request of the Traffic Commissioner following, for example, application by the operator to vary the Operator’s Licence or where an operator’s prohibition rate or MOT fail rate are above the national average.

During the maintenance investigation, the DVSA Vehicle Examiner will inspect some of the operator’s vehicles (and trailers), review the operator’s maintenance systems, procedures and documentation and complete a Maintenance Investigation Visit Report (“MIVR”), which will now cover the following 14 areas of compliance:

  1. Operator legal entity (for further information in relation to legal entity, our article Making Changes? Don’t do it BACK to Front! can be accessed here (pages 41 to 43)).
  2. Condition of vehicles examined at the fleet check
  3. Operating centre
  4. Inspection and maintenance records
  5. Driver defect reporting
  6. Maintenance facilities and arrangements
  7. Vehicle emissions
  8. Wheel and tyre management
  9. Public service vehicle accessibility regulations (PSVAR)
  10. Prohibition assessment
  11. Security requirements
  12. Previous reported shortcomings, conditions and undertakings
  13. Transport manager/responsible person
  14. Request for explanation response (where applicable)

Each area of compliance will be assessed through a series of questions and the ‘outcome’ of the assessment will be banded as either:

  • ‘satisfactory’ – no action required by the operator
  • ‘mostly satisfactory’ – advice is given to the operator
  • ‘unsatisfactory’ – operator action and explanation required
  • ‘report to OTC’ – operator action and explanation required

The DVSA has published guidance (one for HGV operators – click here and PSV operators – click here) detailing the questions that will be used during the maintenance investigation.

If the overall outcome of the maintenance investigation is ‘satisfactory’ or ‘mostly satisfactory’, the operator will be excepted to improve any systems or procedures where advice has been given.  If, however, the overall outcome is ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘report to OTC’, the operator will be required to provide an explanation of the action they are going to take to address the issues identified. Any ‘report to OTC’ cases will automatically be reported to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (the Traffic Commissioner will be provided with a copy of the MIVR and the operator’s response).  In ‘unsatisfactory’ cases, further action will depend on the response to the MIVR provided by the operator but could include the case being closed, checks by the DVSA Remote Enforcement Office at a future date, or reporting the case to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.  Where reports are made to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, it is highly likely that the operator and transport manager will be called to a Public Inquiry and face potential regulatory action.

With a niche specialism in commercial road transport, Backhouse Jones’ eight-strong team of leading regulatory road transport Solicitors is the largest of its kind and has a thousand first-hand experiences assisting operators and transport managers who are experiencing a compliance hiccup or facing issues with the management of their Operator’s Licence.  We are adept at handling DVSA investigations and Public Inquiries and are recognised by the independent Chambers Guide as “a market-leading practice with specialist expertise across the full spectrum of road regulatory matters” and “the premier firm dealing with road transport regulatory work with far and away the biggest market share of any firm in this field”.  We are intimately familiar with the maintenance investigation and Public Inquiry process and the expectations of both DVSA and the Traffic Commissioners so arm yourself with the best representation available by contacting Backhouse Jones’ Regulatory team by email on Regulatory@backhouses.co.uk or on 01254 828300.

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