Commercial Vehicle Test Centres need to open to meet demand – FTAI

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Aidan Flynn, General Manager at the Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI) states that there is no reason why the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (CVRT) Centres could not be open, allowing for a safe environment for staff and those visiting them. In a letter to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Aidan is requesting to consider his proposal to get these facilities reopened.

“On the 28th March, the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport announced that Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Testing (CVRT) would be suspended until further notice. This decision was taken it seems following guidance from the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the changing circumstances at the time. The Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness (Vehicle Testing) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were signed by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 20 April 2020. The effect of these measures is to extend the test due dates by 3 months for commercial vehicles due a CVR test on or after 28 March 2020. For international transport operations the advice from the Road Safety Authority is to have the latest Certificate of Roadworthiness in the operator’s possession,” began Aidan in the letter.

“If we are to keep the supply chain working safely and in a sustainable way, we must do our best to provide essential services to facilitate safe operations and uphold the highest standards of roadworthiness on our roads. CVRT centres provide critical independent commercial vehicle roadworthiness functions and as such everything needs to be done to allow them open.  Of course, the health and safety of all staff is sacrosanct, but if haulage, distribution and manufacturing facilities continue to operate safely and with restrictions in place, there is no reason why CVRT Centres under the auspices of the Road Safety Authority should not be able to carry out their functions, even on a limited basis.

The legal obligations under the Commercial Vehicle’s Roadworthiness Act 2012 and SI 348 remain active in that operators are bound to ensure that their commercial vehicles are roadworthy at all times, drivers must continue to carry out daily vehicle checks and periodic roadworthiness inspections of all vehicles must be scheduled.”

“The FTA Ireland carried out a survey of members between the 24-27 April to assess the maintenance support available for their commercial vehicle fleet. Respondents indicated that they are complying with the legislative requirements and that 38% of their maintenance providers are open full time with 52% opened on a limited basis. 95% of respondents have commercial vehicles due for CVRT test between April and July 2020 with 94% saying that they would present their vehicles for test if the centres were open.

image006.jpgThe new working normal will have to account for social distancing, PPE and less personal interaction. Putting in place controls around cleanliness of cabs of vehicles to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus will need to be considered. However, having a blanket closure of vital safety supports for the commercial fleet in Ireland needs to be reconsidered. FTA Ireland have requested that the Road Safety Authority consider the following:

  1. CVRT Test Centres should be open and operational to provide services in the following instances

i) To Support the registration of new vehicles and vehicles that need to be registered and    taxed for the first time.

ii) Trailer testing

  1. There are more trailers in the commercial fleet population. Trailers require less human contact and can be parked up in test centres without any engagement between the operators and the test centre. In these circumstances, test operatives, adhering to HSE guidelines would have confidence that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very limited. Where operators, particularly those with large fleets, have the capacity to present their trailers for test, they would like the opportunity to do so. The fear is that if the service is suspended until July or a later date, that the requirement to test trailers and vehicles will overwhelm their service and become very onerous on their business at that time.

i) Limited Commercial Vehicle (Rigid and Tractor) testing, where test centres can demonstrate significant safety control measures.

ii) Ambulance / emergency services – very important that rigorous maintenance and testing remains in force for all blue light services. We are all reliant on this service and it would be in nobodies’ interest if there were more instances of breakdown of these vehicles. The testing and roadworthiness regime is important in this context.

Critical to adopting to the new ‘normal’ will be clear and unambiguous information and guidance from key influential stakeholders such as the Department of Health, HSE and Department of An Taoiseach. It is certain that consideration must be given to develop a robust collaborative approach to getting us back working again. The National Logistics Forum is an ideal partner to gain expert insight into what needs to be implemented and managed within the logistics sector. Others such as the Health & Safety Authority must step up and participate more pro-actively in supporting the back to work, stay in work project. Once we are back in work the new safety measures and social distancing rules will need to be assessed and reviewed. The mechanism to do this needs to be developed with all stakeholders, all of whom can then disseminate the information effectively within their networks supporting the national agenda.

The Health & Safety Authority has posted information on its website in relation to COVID-19: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/news_events_media/news/news_and_articles/covid-19_additonal_hsa_faqs.html. The Road Safety Authority also provides COVID-19 information on its website:  https://www.rsa.ie/en/Utility/News/Alerts/Coronavirus-COVIDID–19–No-Disruption-to-RSA-Services/

The FTA Ireland is here for you, and available to represent needs of the transport and logistics industry and will continue to keep you updated on an ongoing basis. Please do not hesitate to contact me on 087 3546954 or email aflynn@ftai.ie with any issues or queries and we will help as best as we can.”