Vehicle and Operator Services Agency: Enforcement of regulations on commercial vehicles - Public Accounts Committee Contents


The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (the Agency) has successfully increased by over 25% the number of dangerous vehicles and drivers that it removed from the roads in recent years. This is welcome news to this Committee which has already noted its concerns about safety on our roads this year. While welcoming the Agency's work to target its efforts more at the riskiest operators, we consider that there is scope to do better by bringing the Agency's working practices up to date to reflect current road traffic patterns and the opportunities afforded by technology and working with others.

More needs to be done to address the significant risk to road safety posed by foreign commercial vehicles. They appear to contribute little in the way of revenue and pose a particular challenge in terms of enforcing regulations. The Department for Transport (the Department) and the Agency have increased the number of inspections of foreign vehicles and have put in place stronger sanctions in the form of fines. But they must not lose focus on the need to address a number of important barriers to the effectiveness of their enforcement activities. In particular, we do not consider that the Department and the Agency have done enough to secure access to HM Revenue and Customs' Freight Targeting Database which would allow the Agency to target non-compliant vehicles and drivers as they enter the country and so prevent them from travelling on Britain's roads. Moreover, it is unacceptable that three ports have barred the Agency from carrying out enforcement activities within their premises.

The Agency seeks to target its inspections of British operators on those which present the greatest risks, but it needs to develop its systems further so that they reflect better the known risks to road safety. Likewise the location of staff and checksites needs to reflect more closely current traffic patterns. The Agency is also unable to obtain as much information about high risk British operators as it would like as there is currently no fully effective mechanism for sharing data between Member States in the European Union. The Department's new Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) compliance strategy is under development and provides an opportunity to make better use of data to analyse risk and to target resources more effectively.

On the basis of a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General,[1] we examined the extent to which the Agency is effective in targeting high risk vehicles and whether its approach to enforcement is appropriate for today's world.

1   C&AG's Report, Session 2009-10, Vehicle and Operator Services Agency: Enforcement of regulations on commercial vehicles, HC (2009-10) 210 Back

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