Released by: Office of The Traffic Commissioner
The traffic commissioners have worked with industry to implement a range of measures to meet the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic. They’ve done this by working more flexibly through the use of modern technology and by altering their approach to certain operational issues.
Here are some of the measures they’ve introduced to help operators and drivers during the lockdown.
Keeping up to date is always an important part of running safe and compliant transport operation, but the current situation prevents classroom-based learning. To help you stay up to date, the TCs have investigated alternative ways of delivering training and professional development remotely.
The technology available for e-learning has advanced a lot in recent years. Trainers and attendees can now interact personally and share experiences through video conferencing software. This means the experience can now be close enough to classroom-based learning that the traffic commissioners have assessed it as being able to work as a temporary replacement during the lockdown.
The commissioners will even accept virtual training as meeting licence undertakings if certain criteria are met.
There are currently eight service providers that have met the standards for operator licence awareness training and transport manager CPC refresher courses. Virtual courses are also available to meet the requirements of drivers CPC vocational entitlement.
Relaxed maintenance schedules
With some operators unable to access maintenance facilities, the TCs in consultation with industry, have outlined a flexible risk-based solution.
Depending on various factors aimed at minimising risk to road safety, intervals can be extended by up to 50% with a maximum of 17 weeks – whichever is less. This is only if an inspection really cannot be carried out as normal.
The preventative maintenance inspection schedule can now be frozen for vehicles unused during the pandemic. If they have gone longer than they were supposed to without inspection by their next use, a competent person (ideally a technician) will have to carry out an enhanced walkaround check before the vehicle is operated.
The Traffic Commissioners’ advice document for operators has more information.
Public inquiries using Microsoft teams
During the lockdown, the traffic commissioners have held a limited number of straightforward public inquiries virtually using Microsoft Teams. This is currently only used for essential public inquiries, as it might not be appropriate all issues.
However, in difficult circumstances, this is a further example of the traffic commissioners working flexibly, while meeting their mandate of ensuring road safety and fair competition.
Remote third-party compliance audits
External audits remain extremely important for operators to improve compliance, while affording a traffic commissioner assurances of road safety.
Audits are usually based on a physical visit to the operator’s premises where the auditor can check records and interview key staff. This needs to continue during the lockdown period, but in-person site visits pose a potential public health risk.
The commissioners have considered the available options and have determined that remote audits can be an acceptable, temporary alternative. In a remote audit, an operator will provide documentary evidence to the auditor, who will follow up by phone call, or preferably video conferencing.
The commissioners have produced a remote audit framework to set out the depth of evidence and analysis required. This is the standard that traffic commissioners will accept as meeting a licence undertaking to provide an external audit.
The traffic commissioners have published three documents during the lockdown. These are:
- statutory guidance and directions outlining the more flexible approach TCs are taking to various issues during the lockdown
- advice and guidance for operators during the lockdown
- the remote audit framework
We recommend reading them all.