New Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness to force trailer testing transformation 10 July 2014

The latest edition of the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness', issued last month by DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency), will mean significant changes for operators and workshops testing trailer and semi-trailer brakes.

The new guide advises that a measured brake test be carried out as part of any on-site inspection – which is a significant departure from much of the industry's current practice.

DVSA and the traffic commissioners make it clear that it is no longer acceptable for service engineers simply to visit a customer site and inspect and/or maintain a trailer without moving it, or performing any kind of controlled road test, and reporting their findings.

Additionally, while allowing road tests at safety inspections (with due annotation on the inspection record), the new GTMR warns that 'a road test method to assess the brake performance for all planned safety inspections will usually be inadequate'.

As a result, all trailers should now complete 'at least three successful brake efficiency tests [workshop roller brake tests] spread throughout year, in addition to the annual MOT test'.

Furthermore, if deficiencies are identified either during use of the vehicle or at safety inspection, 'a measured brake efficiency test must be carried out [to] confirm the brakes are performing satisfactorily before the vehicle can be considered roadworthy'.

TIP Trailer Services is advising operators that, to follow the GTMR advice and carry out a measured brake test on a trailer, some form of traction has to be made available.

The firm makes the point that operators therefore need to consider driver and tractor unit availability and insurance cover, and ensure that there is sufficient space to carry out a decelerometer test, within a safe working environment.

"In the majority of on-site maintenance events, the trailer is parked on a large distribution centre or a remote VOR area and there is no – or limited – tractor or shunt unit available," comments Dave Parr, maintenance leader UK and Ireland for TIP Trailer Services.

Yes static or 'operational' brake tests will no longer be acceptable.

"This will be a major factor for operators who insist on on-site maintenance," warns Parr.

"It will only take one or two high-profile cases to come before a traffic commissioner, and the subsequent operator licence removal or restriction, to start knee-jerk reactions across the industry."

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Department for Transport
TIP Trailer Services UK Ltd

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