PMI paperwork always needed, says law expert

All operators that use outside providers for preventative maintenance inspection (PMI) work must ensure that a signed document certifying the vehicle’s roadworthiness is in their possession before it is used again, says a leading road transport lawyer.

James Backhouse, of Backhouse Jones Solicitors, made the point when addressing a gathering of operators from the PCV and LGV sectors last Thursday (4 June) in Warrington.

“The DVSA will not be interested in excuses. You simply must have that piece of paper in your possession before the vehicle leaves your yard,” he says.

The two-three-day wait sometimes experienced between the vehicle’s return from the PMI provider and arrival of the signed declaration of roadworthiness can be “a deadly period,” continues Mr Backhouse, who adds that operators have no protection and are in a very weak position if the vehicle is found to be in use with defects present that were picked up at the PMI.

He uses the example of a lorry with defects noted at the time of PMI. It was returned to its operator without rectification work having taken place and placed back in service.

When the inspection sheet was later sent by the maintenance contractor to the operator, these defects were noted and the vehicle was not signed off as roadworthy.

In the meantime the lorry had overturned as a result of one of the defects. The operator was called to a Public Inquiry.

“Operators should have PMI documentation before the vehicle is returned to service, not days later,” says Mr Backhouse, who also advises that the inspector’s signature on the sheet should be checked closely.