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Do you understand the responsibilities of holding an operator licence?

It is the aim of all operators to be responsible and safe but do you know what you signed up for when you made your application?  On the last page of the application is the declaration along with a list of undertakings; the breach of any of which could get you brought in front of the Traffic Commissioner. So what must you do to be a responsible operator?

You must make sure that the rules on driver hours and tachographs are observed and proper records are kept.  

Whilst your drivers are responsible for correctly recording their working, driving and break times, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that this is being done properly.  This means downloading data from both the driver card and the vehicle unit and comparing them.  These records also need to be kept for 15 months.  

You must make sure that the vehicles and trailers are not overloaded.

Make sure that you and your drivers know the maximum weight for your vehicles and that your drivers know to take the vehicle to a weighbridge if they think the vehicle is overweight.

You must make sure that the vehicles will operate within speed limits.

Your vehicles may be fitted with speed limiters but that does not mean that the vehicles should be driven at their maximum speed.  Your drivers need to be aware of the possibly fatal consequences of driving a vehicle too fast for the terrain and the conditions.  

Make sure that vehicles and trailers are kept fit and serviceable.

This means that all vehicles and trailers must have their preventative maintenance inspections frequently and the drivers must complete their walk-around checks daily and report any defects. These records must also be kept for 15 months. 

Drivers must report safety faults in vehicles as soon as possible

Your drivers must be aware of what they are looking for when they complete their walk-around checks before the vehicle leaves the site.  If a defect is spotted then it needs to be reported to the responsible person as soon as possible.  If a driver-detected defect comes up as part of the preventative maintenance inspection then it is clear that the driver is either not completing his safety checks properly or is not reporting the defects.  

Records must be kept and made available on request

You must keep all records for preventative maintenance inspections, driver daily checks and defect recording as well as when the repairs are completed and who they are signed off by.  You also need to keep records from your driver’s cards and your vehicle unit plus contracts with external maintenance providers and with your transport manager, if applicable.  All records must be available for inspection by the DVSA if they pay you a visit.

If you need assistance with acquiring or holding an operator’s licence, please contact Philip Brown at AMD Solicitors in Bristol by calling 0117 962 1205.


This article is provided for general information purposes only and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at the date of uploading. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice pertaining to any specific factual situation. Legal decisions should be made only after proper consultation with a legal professional of your choosing.

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