The Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness is the document provided by the DVSA, to guide operators of commercial goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles. The document offers guidelines and best practices for operators to comply with laws around vehicle safety and maintenance.
You can download a copy of the guide from the DVSA here.
In previous blog posts, we covered the sections of the guide relating to driver daily walkaround checks and regular & first-use checks. This post will explore what the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness advice in relation to the use of electronic systems.
What does the guide say about using electronic systems to maintain compliance with safety checks?
Unlike guidance on check types (daily walkaround checks and regular & first-use checks), there is no specific section in the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness, on the use of electronic systems.
That doesn’t mean, however, that electronic systems are not mentioned in relation to completing and monitoring checks, in order to maintain roadworthiness. The use of electronic systems is discussed throughout the guide, particularly in reference to completing and recording both the daily walkaround checks and the regular checks:
- Use of Electronic Systems for Driver Daily Walkaround Checks The guide states that, for driver daily walkaround checks, “electronic records of reported defects are acceptable and must be available for 15 months along with any record of repair“.
- Use of Electronic Systems for Regular and First Use Checks There is a little more depth in the guide about the use of electronic systems for regular and first-use checks: “safety inspection records can be stored electronically, using a computer. The system must be tamper-proof and capable of producing hardcopy information for use at public inquiries”. The guide also references the type of information that must be contained in an electronic record, with a few key differences (outlined in the next section) between the required information in paper records and in electronic records”. In fact, the guide would appear to welcome and encourage the use of electronic systems, stating that: “Internet-based systems are becoming more common. These provide significant opportunities for improving the ease with which operators can plan and monitor the maintenance of their vehicles, thus leading to higher standards and improved compliance”
What does this mean for operators?
Essentially, this guidance means that operators may use an electronic system for their checks, though it isn’t currently a requirement for maintaining roadworthiness. If operators do choose to use electronic systems to record and store data about safety checks, the guide specifies that:
- In the case of driver daily walkaround checks, electronic records must be made available for a minimum of 15 months.
- Where checks are recorded on paper check sheets but stored electronically (i.e. the paper check sheets are scanned or photographed and stored in a digital system), the paper version does not need to be retained.
- Systems must be tamper-proof (i.e. secure).
- A hardcopy of information stored in the electronic system must be produced if required, for use at public inquiries held by Traffic Commissioners.
- With two key exceptions, electronic systems used for the storage of regular and first-use check records must include the same information as required for paper records (the full list of requirements is laid out on page 21 of the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness). The exceptions are:
- [In the case of using a paper report to carry out the inspection] A full list of the items inspected (which can be indicated on the paper report only)
- An indication of the condition of each item inspected (Electronic records only need to provide details of defective items)
- In the planning of safety inspection programmes (for the regular checks), operators are also allowed to use computer-based systems, which must meet the same standards as any other planning system (detailed on page 28 of the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness)
Do operators have to use an electronic system to stay compliant?
On one hand, there is no requirement in the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness for using an electronic system. But it may only be a matter of time.
Earned Recognition (the scheme which will allow operators to share compliance records with the DVSA, or order to achieve the ‘Earned Recognition’ status – this will act as a mark of excellence, and result benefits for operators and drivers, like fewer roadside inspections. Read more about the scheme here and about the pilot here) does include a requirement for using an electronic system.
Judging by this requirement already in place for operators hoping to achieve the ‘gold standard’ in vehicle maintenance with earned recognition, and by major advances in technology over the past few years (both in the transport sector and more broadly), it would probably be safe to predict widespread adoption of electronic systems for vehicle maintenance and roadworthiness over the next few years.
Why use an electronic system to maintain roadworthiness?
Using an electronic system to check, record, report and store vehicle maintenance data, and to stay compliant with roadworthiness guidelines, has multiple potential benefits, for operators and for drivers including:
- Staying at the Forefront of the Sector – Implementing an electronic system now could put you a step ahead of the Earned Recognition scheme, and of any future changes to the guide that do require an electronic system as best practice
- Making Savings– You can cut your spend on the time and resources involved in managing and filing paper check sheets
- Increasing Accuracy – With an electronic system in place, you should be able to keep more accurate and secure records of all your checks
- Improving Completion Rates – Not only can you improve the accuracy of the checks undertaken, you can also increase the likelihood of all checks being completed, with better monitoring and understanding of whether you drivers are adhering to the checks
- Streamlining the Vehicle Management Process – By combining results from daily walkaround checks and regular inspections, following issues through to resolution, and tracking key vehicle information (like registration details, classifications and MOT dates) in a single system