What did we learn on the IRTEC Course?

By CET Catherine Gilder

In early December Chris Harrington and Catherine Gilder of CE Transport Law attended a 3 day IRTEC maintenance inspection course alongside transport consultants Beth Carroll and Gary Buckell.

The training was part of our drive to have a better understanding of mechanical defects which might be identified by the police or DVSA on operators’ vehicles. This includes defects which should be identified by drivers on their walk around checks as well as those items which should be inspected in accordance with the DVSA’s Inspection Manual which can be found here 

The training comprised of 2 days of classroom based training and a 1 day practical day where we were able to carry out a preventative maintenance investigation on an artic unit and trailer, watch vehicles undergo roller brake tests and analyse the results.

The provision of maintenance is not under the jurisdiction of the Traffic Commissioners, yet it is one of the main reasons for operators to find themselves in Public Inquiry.

All too often we see operators who are paying vast sums of money to have their vehicles maintained by seemingly reputable maintenance providers being let down by those dealerships.

Issues can range from simply not signing the vehicle off as roadworthy to bald tyres and worn out brake discs being marked as ‘monitor’ and then being left to the next PMI which might be 12 weeks away! 

The items a driver has to check, as contained in the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness which you can find here are items that will also appear at PMI.  Operators should be auditing PMI sheets against driver defect reports. If driver detectable defects are appearing at PMI, drivers need to be made aware of this and given training to improve their walk around checks. Failure to improve should be a disciplinary issue. 

Traffic Commissioners understand that mechanical issues can arise out on the road and sometimes things go wrong but they expect operators to minimise these outcomes by putting measures in place to prevent safety issues arising. Those measures should include scrutinising and comparing PMI’s, RBT’s and driver defect sheets.  MOT failures should also be investigated and documented to try and prevent failures happening again and to prevent points being added to the OCRS Score!

The IRTEC course is a useful one for anyone who wants to understand the basic mechanics of a vehicle and trailer and may be a good starting point for anyone looking to review the compliance measures they have in place to prevent mechanical issues. Knowledge is power when it comes to challenging apparent issues with a maintenance contractor or driver!

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