VOSA proposals could make roads safer

Transport Secretary suggests giving agency more powers to crack down on rule-breakers

by Martin Thomas   July 6, 2010  

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UK roads could be safer for cyclists if proposed new powers to crack down on dangerous trucks and coaches are adopted.

The new proposals, set out by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond last week, would give the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) more authority to tackle vehicles they suspect of being overloaded or breaking operating or driving hours rules.

The consultation also outlines plans to give VOSA officers in Scotland the power to independently stop commercial vehicles for the first time. Currently, all VOSA enforcement in Scotland is assisted by the police.

Philip Hammond said: “If our roads are to remain among the safest in the world we need to make sure that the drivers and vehicles on our roads are fit to be there. VOSA’s work is vital in keeping dangerous vehicles and drivers off the road.

“The measures I am announcing will make sure that rogue operators have nowhere to hide by ensuring that VOSA inspectors across Great Britain have all the powers they need to stop vehicles that may pose a threat to road safety.

“The new powers will also free up police time as VOSA will be able to operate more independently.”

Currently, VOSA inspectors can only independently stop drivers if they suspect there is a fault with the vehicle. These new plans would extend VOSA’s powers and allow their inspectors – without the need for police assistance – to pull drivers over to check that they are complying with the rules.

Chris Peck, Policy Co-ordinator at CTC, commented, "We welcome every effort to improve traffic law enforcement. Often stop checks on lorries show that a very high proportion of these vehicles have some sort of defect or are breaking regulations, such as those on driver hours.

"But we're not sure that this particular step will have all that much of an effect on cyclists' safety. To make things safer for cyclists, we need to plan our inner cities to reduce conflict with lorries altogether, by changing lorry delivery patterns and consolidating loads on the edges of urban areas.”

The consultation is online and will close on 13 August 2010.