Written statement to Parliament

Roads update: 23 November 2018

Update to the operators of heavy vehicles guidance.

Jesse Norman MP

I wish to inform the House that the government is today (23 November 2018) introducing changes to formal guidance issued to the operators of heavy vehicles.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is publishing a revised guide to maintaining roadworthiness, which is the formal guidance for commercial operators and drivers on how to make sure their vehicles are safe to drive.

It includes guidance that tyres over 10 years old should not be used on heavy vehicles except in specific, limited circumstances. These changes reinforce guidance previously issued to bus and coach operators and extend it to include goods vehicles.

The government takes road safety seriously and in 2013 the Department for Transport issued guidance about the use of older tyres on buses and coaches. This precautionary guidance encouraged operators to remove any tyre aged 10 years or more from the front, steering axle, of their vehicles. Since that time, the DVSA has been monitoring the age of tyres fitted during annual roadworthiness inspections. Compliance has been good.

I reported to the House on 1 March 2018 that the Department for Transport was undertaking research to understand better the effect of age on a tyre’s integrity. I am pleased to report that this research is proceeding well and that I have made additional funds available to extend the number of tyre samples that are being analysed. The report will be available in spring 2019.

The DVSA’s priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. It will start conducting follow up investigations whenever it finds a vehicle operator with a tyre more than 10 years old on its bus, coach, lorry or trailer. If the operator cannot provide an adequate explanation for using an old tyre, or their tyre management systems are not good enough, the DVSA will consider referring them to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.

The revision to the guide to maintaining roadworthiness also includes information to help drivers of high vehicles avoid bridge strikes. Bridge strikes cause significant disruption for the rail network and are often caused by drivers failing to appreciate the height of their vehicle.

The revision provides further guidance for drivers to remind them to record the height of their vehicle during their daily walk around checks. By improving guidance in this area, the DVSA aims to see a reduction in disruption to travellers.

The government and the DVSA will continue their commitment to keep Britain’s roads amongst the safest in the world by enforcing legislation, as well as working with industry to provide guidance on vehicle and driver safety.

Published 23 November 2018