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June 30, 2010

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Inspectors gain new powers to check haulage vehicles

New powers to help inspectors crack down on dangerous trucks and coaches have been set out by the Department for Transport.

The proposals would give the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) more flexibility in tackling vehicles it suspects of being overloaded, or breaking operating or driving-hours rules. New powers would also help VOSA inspectors check if hauliers from outside the UK are in compliance with rules governing the amount of UK domestic work they can undertake.

Announcing a consultation on the new plans, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: “VOSA’s work is vital in keeping dangerous vehicles and drivers off the road.

“The measures I am announcing will make sure that rogue operators have nowhere to hide, by ensuring that VOSA inspectors across Great Britain have all the powers they need to stop vehicles that may pose a threat to road safety.”

Currently, in many cases, VOSA inspectors require Police assistance before they can pull vehicles over, and can only do so independently if they suspect there is a fault with the vehicle – although they can check for other offences once they have done so. The new plans would remove the restrictions on Police assistance and allow inspectors themselves to stop drivers, in order to check that they are complying with rules on maximum weight limits, driving hours, and operator licensing.

The planned changes will also allow the VOSA chief executive to authorise inspectors to stop vehicles rather than needing to get accreditation from individual Police forces. It is hoped this change will reduce bureaucracy and free up the vehicles agency to concentrate on front-line enforcement.

Mr Hammond added that the proposals would also help create a level playing field for domestic and foreign operators working in the UK. He explained: “These plans will also help VOSA enforce the rules governing the amount of domestic work hauliers from outside the UK can undertake, helping to make sure that UK operators do not face unfair competition for business.”

A spokesperson for the Road Haulage Association welcomed the consultation and said it wanted to see the new powers introduced “sooner rather than later”. She added: “Anything that improves safety and the efficiency of the industry has got to be good news.”

The consultation is at and will close on 13 August.

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