Earlier this week we looked at the issue of brake testing.
Unfortunately, it’s something traffic commissioners still have to deal with at public inquiry.
Take this case from last year. The operator was called to a hearing after failing to keep a promise made at a previous inquiry.
All vehicles and trailers were meant to have a meaningful (laden) roller brake test every quarter. But when DVSA checked, this wasn’t happening.
The company’s director (and transport manager) said the maintenance contractor had too much work on and couldn’t provide a reliable service. That’s the reason he gave for not having any laden brake tests.
He also hadn’t noticed the brake test printouts included a warning about insufficient loads.
The tests were conducted at only 20% of design axle weight.
A trailer test achieved only 390kgf on one wheel. When it was retested 45 minutes later, it achieved 536kgf.
That’s around 10-12% brake effort. The legal minimum is 45%. Or in the case of the trailer’s wheel station, a force equivalent to 2025kg.
Impact on repute and business
Failing to keep promises made at a public inquiry goes to the repute of the operator and transport manager.
Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney said the operator’s conduct had been reckless.
He disqualified the transport manager (who has to take his CPC qualification again) and cut the operator’s fleet – beyond what the business said it could cope with losing.
The firm won’t get it’s full authorisation back until all vehicles and trailers have a fresh PMI including a brake test – with each axle loaded to at least 80% of design axle weight.
Mr Rooney used the case to point out that unladen brake testing in relation to PMIs is pointless. A locked wheel doesn’t necessarily mean a good brake unless it locks at or above the minimum brake force required for the vehicle.