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What are a transport managers legal responsibilities?

Transport managers have a lot of legal responsibilities, and it would be virtually impossible to list every duty and legal responsibility they must carry out as there are significant differences within the different sectors of the transport businesses covered by the operator licensing regime. What is relevant in one individual business may not be relevant in another business and vice-versa.

That said, there are standard responsibilities shared by all transport managers regardless. As standard practice, all transport managers must make sure that:

  • drivers have a valid licence, and vehicles are taxed, have a valid MOT and are insured at all times
  • vehicles are properly maintained and fit, and serviceable at all times
  • work is priced so that it can be done both legally and profitably
  • vehicles are loaded safely and not overloaded
  • work is arranged so that drivers do not break drivers’ hours’ rules or have to speed

Sounds easy, right? let’s break down the responsibilities in each section and find out if it really is as easy as it seems.

Driving licences and qualifications

Transport managers are responsible for making sure:

  • drivers have the appropriate licence for the vehicle they’re driving – this includes drivers from the EU who must register their driving licence with DVLA within 12 months of becoming resident
  • regular checks are carried out on the driver’s licences
  • vocational drivers have a valid Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card
  • drivers are adequately trained and competent to operate all relevant vehicles and equipment
  • you contribute to relevant training and disciplinary processes as required

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Drivers’ hours and working time

Making sure drivers follow the rules

Transport managers are responsible for making sure:

  • drivers follow drivers’ hour’s rules
  • drivers and mobile workers take the right number of breaks and periods of daily and weekly rest based on the relevant regulations which apply
  • drivers are recording their duty, driving time, and rest breaks on the appropriate equipment or in drivers’ hour books and their records are handed back for inspection as required

Keeping records

Transport managers must keep vehicle maintenance records for at least 15 months. If they ask to see these records, they must give traffic commissioners a copy.

Transport managers are responsible for making sure:

  • tachograph calibrations are up to date and displayed
  • where appropriate, you download and store data from the vehicle’s digital tachograph unit (at least every 90 days) and from the drivers’ tachograph smart cards (at least every 28 days)
  • you keep all drivers’ hours records for at least 12 months
  • you keep all working time records for at least 24 months

Vehicles on the operator’s licences

Transport managers must keep vehicle details up to date on the Vehicle Operator Licensing system. If you do not make changes promptly, such as removing vehicles that were hired, this can impact your repute as a transport manager.

Transport managers are responsible for making sure:

  • vehicles are specified on the operator licence as required
  • vehicles are secure, so they cannot be used by someone without permission from the operator
  • there is sufficient contingency within the level of authority

Vehicle documents

Transport managers must keep vehicle maintenance records for at least 15 months. If traffic commissioners ask to see these records, you must give them a copy.

Transport managers are responsible for making sure:

  • operator licence discs are current and displayed correctly
  • there are up-to-date certificates of insurance indemnifying company cars, commercial vehicles and plant vehicles
  • drivers have the correct documents they need for international journeys

Safety checks, inspections and tests

Transport managers are responsible for making sure vehicles and trailers are safe to use (roadworthy).

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Transport managers are responsible for making sure:

  • safety inspections and other statutory testing are carried out within the notified operator licence maintenance intervals (ISO weeks)
  • you complete and display a maintenance planner, setting preventative maintenance inspection dates at least 6 months in advance and including the MOT and other testing or calibration dates
  • you liaise with maintenance contractors, manufacturers, hire companies and dealers, as might be appropriate and that certain vehicles and trailers are serviced in accordance with manufacturer recommendations
  • vehicles and towed equipment are available for safety inspections, service, repair and statutory testing

Driver daily checks and defect reports

Transport managers are responsible for making sure:

  • vehicle payloads notifications are correct
  • height indicators are fitted and correct
  • your drivers complete and return their driver defect reporting sheets, and that they record defects correctly
  • reported defects are either recorded in writing or in a format which is readily accessible
  • reported defects are repaired promptly
  • vehicles and trailers that are not roadworthy are taken out of service

Do you still think it’s easy?

So now we’ve broken down the legal responsibilities of transport managers, you can see that the tiny list we started with actually contains a lot of jobs within it, and this still isn’t everything a transport manager has to do as part of their normal duties.

Transport managers can delegate tasks to other individuals working within a team, but whilst they can delegate tasks, they cannot delegate responsibility. That means they must make sure that every task is being completed correctly and in line with the law and the terms and conditions they agreed to with the traffic commissioner.

The ultimate responsibility of a transport operation rests with the nominated TM on the operator licence. That means if things go wrong, it’s the transport manager’s neck on the line, and the consequences for non-compliance can be severe.

Did you know that the transport manager is the most important people in a transport operation? – yes, it’s true. The transport manager keeps the operation running, and without them making sure the business operates within the law, the transport operation would be shut down by the traffic commissioner. So respect transport managers because they play a huge role in keeping the business operating!

Would you like to become a qualified transport manager?

we can help you get qualified without taking time away from work to study. You can find out more by clicking here

Are you a qualified transport manager who needs a refresher?

We have a range of training courses suitable for qualified transport managers, including online transport manager cpc refreshers. The traffic commissioner states you must complete a refresher every 5 years as a minimum but they recommend you take one every year to make sure you are always up to date. Find an online refresher that you can do at your own pace by clicking here.

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