MPs are calling for VOSA to be given more power and resources to tackle the problem of unsafe lorries and drivers on UK roads.
The House of Commons Transport Committee’s latest report states that unsafe vehicles, often foreign-registered lorries, cost lives, and that VOSA must have access to ports, to deter dangerous vehicles from entering the country.
The Committee is also lobbying for VOSA to be given IT systems and better information-sharing arrangements with other agencies such as HM Revenue and Customs.
Committee chairman Louise Ellman said: “Britain has some of the safest roads in Europe but more must be done to ensure compliance with our safety standards for lorries, buses and coaches. VOSA is recognised as a model of best practice and a leader within Europe but it lacks sufficient access to our ports to inspect vehicles and drivers effectively.
“The work of VOSA is also hampered by some of the data sharing regulations. It is clear that with many unsafe foreign registered lorries and drivers entering the UK, it is crucial that VOSA can share information with colleagues in other European countries to bring cowboy operators to book.
“Better arrangements are needed so that the tracking methods used so effectively to nail non-compliant British vehicles can be employed to target foreign registered lorries and coaches also.”
The Committee also warns against privatising the entire network of safety testing centres for lorries, on the basis that this could “significantly reduce access to testing, particularly in remote areas of the country.”
The Freight Transport Association has backed the Committee’s report, saying it reckons the image of logistics is being damaged by truck drivers who flout UK road safety rules.
FTA’s Jo Tanner said: “Seeing obviously unsafe overseas trucks being driven erratically by over-tired drivers is enough to give the logistics sector a bad name, despite the fact that the UK fleet is recognised as the safest in Europe. This does the 2.3 million people that work in the logistics sector a great disservice.
“The safety of our roads has to be the number one priority and our continuing concern is that safety standards are being ridden rough-shod over by rogue operators from overseas. While UK operators by and large operate what is considered to be the gold standard in terms of compliance with safety regulations, operators coming across from the continent, particularly those from Eastern Europe, often fall well short.”