‘Drivers are more and more the issue’ in maintenance cases, says TC

Driver walk-round checks are increasingly an issue in maintenance says TC Blackmore, as he gives Green Mountain Travel a warning

Drivers “are more and more the issue” in vehicle maintenance-related cases, according to Traffic Commissioner (TC) Tim Blackmore.

At recent Public Inquiries (PIs), drivers not doing their walk-round checks properly was a major problem, he said.

His comments came when he issued Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based Green Mountain Travel with a formal warning, with a message that the company could not afford any more prohibitions and that it needed to keep on top of its drivers.

The company, with an 11-vehicle international licence, had been called before him at a Leeds PI.

The TC said that last July an ‘S’ marked prohibition had been issued for an exhaust defect and a defective door catch. There was no driver defect report that day, and a follow-up maintenance investigation revealed issues with driver defect reporting.

A letter from the drivers concerned stated that he had mentioned it to the then Transport Manager Steven Davies.

Mr Davies said that the prohibition was issued for a blowing exhaust. The driver had reported that the exhaust was loose and knocking against the vehicle.

It was blowing when the vehicle was in the workshop for repair to the exhaust about a week before the issue of the prohibition.

The TC said that driver defect reporting was again an issue after a further maintenance investigation in April, following the issue of an immediate prohibition for a defective seat.

No defects were reported by the driver in the four days preceding the issue of the prohibition.

Director Tracy Thorpe said that the prohibition arose after a Vehicle Examiner wanted the production of three vehicles quickly and before they had had time to do any walk-round checks.

There were no problems with the other two vehicles, and the prohibited vehicle was cleared shortly afterwards.

The TC said that this was the company’s first PI. The company had done a lot since the latest maintenance investigation. He noted that driver training had been undertaken and that there was now a spot check mechanism in place.

Preventative maintenance inspection records were now interrogated to see if any defects were driver-related. Tracy Thorpe and Mr Davies and the current Transport Manager Jeffrey Heslop were to undertake refresher training.

Three independent audits had been carried out by Transport Consultant Peter Russell and a fourth was booked for the following month.