The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the Government’s consultation on a new strategy for its three motoring agencies is a positive step that recognises the challenges faced by commercial freight and fleet operators.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is consulting on the strategic direction to be taken over the course of the current Parliament by the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).
Karen Dee, FTA’s Director of Policy, said: “The requirements of our members are frequently poorly understood or overlooked and we need to improve the way in which the agencies and their systems interact with each other and with their customers in order to reduce the burden of compliance on our industry.”
Submissions can be made to the DfT until 8 January and the results will be announced next spring. FTA plans to respond urging the Government to be radical in its approach to ensure the desired outcome is achieved.
Ms Dee said improvements to the way the agencies operate could have a significant impact on driver shortages as there are currently problems with the processing of vocational licences, especially where medical investigations are required. This prevents drivers who are medically fit from getting back to work quickly.
“Our industry is experiencing a serious skills shortage and processing delays mean both that vacancies aren’t being filled effectively and that some existing drivers are prevented from working. We welcome Government’s acknowledgement of this problem but believe urgent changes are needed to improve the service,” she said.
FTA has been working closely with DVSA to identify ways to target operators who break the rules without undermining compliant businesses. The Association welcomes the proposal for Earned Recognition and will work with the agency to bring it forward as soon as possible. FTA also believes a Government suggestion to consider private testing of HGVs could help to tackle the current problem of delays in securing a vehicle test slot. The Association supported the ATF system which has been introduced in recent years but believes there is a case for this to go further to provide more flexibility.
Ms Dee said: “The motoring agencies provide a wide range of services which are essential to freight operators. Many of these are funded by fees paid by operators themselves, rather than by the taxpayer, so it is essential to ensure that they provide efficient, value for money and affordable services.”