Skip to main content

Vehicles: Checks

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the penalties for businesses whose vehicles fail checks carried out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency are sufficient to prevent accidents and safeguard the interests of compliant businesses. [HL6103]

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) conducts inspections of vehicles at operators’ premises and at the roadside to check the roadworthiness of vehicles and that safety rules for vehicle use are complied with (including drivers’ hours and vehicle weight).

The GB operator licensing system provides a robust method of dealing with operators who systematically disregard the law. Problems that are found by VOSA at its checks are reported to the traffic commissioners, who are responsible for regulating GB operators. Traffic commissioners have the power to require certain undertakings from vehicle operators to provide confidence that they can operate safely. Where problems are reported the traffic commissioner has the power to issue warnings, suspend, curtail or revoke a licence.

Where heavy goods vehicles (HGV) operators choose to operate unlawfully outside of the GB operator licensing system, VOSA has the power to impose a range of sanctions, including:

impound vehicles which can then be sold by VOSA, the sale value being offset against the costs of the impounding and subsequent vehicle storage. It is intended that similar powers will be extended to public services vehicles (PSV) in 2009;

prosecution action can be taken. In 2007-08 7,127 offences were reported for prosecution for HGVs and 747 for PSVs. Average fine levels for 2007-08 were £247.56; and

from spring 2009 it is intended that VOSA will have power to issue fixed penalties to drivers for offences they have committed. This will provide further deterrent to non-compliance. Powers will also be introduced to enable “deposits” to be taken from those unable to provide a satisfactory UK address.