FTA proposals may change VOSA amber ABS policy04 January 2010
As we go to press, the transport industry looks closer to achieving a change in VOSA policy concerning amber ABS warning lamps, following intense lobbying by the FTA (Freight Transport Association).
Operators accept that a red lamp must be investigated before permitting further movement, but argue that amber advisory lights should be treated differently.
As Andy Mair, head of engineering policy at FTA, argues, under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations part 18, any such fault can be disregarded on vehicles completing a journey or driving to a workshop, if the ABS was functioning correctly prior to its departure.
The complications are twofold. On the one hand, amber lamps are generally not activated only by ABS issues, but also other brake problems – something with which manufacturers are comfortable, but VOSA is not.
On the other hand, ABS warning lamps on combinations cause additional problems, particularly at the roadside, in that it is seldom easy to establish quickly which unit might be defective.
"Currently, when the amber light comes on, we're forced to call out the vehicle manufacturer, but they may well find no problem. Then you're into an additional trailer charge – and all of this is taking time at the roadside, when it could well be done better in the workshop," explains Mike Selby, fleet compliance manager at Arla Foods.
"Our view is that if the roadside technician declares the foundation brakes safe, our drivers should be able to move on to the nearest convenient workshop, albeit cautiously," he adds.
The FTA is now drawing up proposals whereby an illuminated amber ABS lamp found at a VOSA roadside intervention should be mitigated, if there is evidence available to a VOSA examiner not only that the fault occurred en-route, but also that appropriate action has been taken and that the vehicle is completing its journey or is on its way to a workshop.
That should result, at most, in an 'x' marked prohibition and, at best, an inspection notice, advises Mair, although he accepts that the latter is unlikely for now. However, he also notes that it is currently not certain if 'x' marked prohibitions carry the same OCRS penalty points as standard prohibitions.
"Clearly, they should not, as the endorsement indicates that it is likely that the defect arose during the journey and there are no maintenance management problems," comments Mair.
Freight Transport Association Ltd
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