Varadkar confirms overhaul of safety tests for buses & lorries
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar is publishing new laws to overhaul the testing regime for commercial vehicles such as buses and lorries.
The Road Safety (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Bill 2012, passed by Cabinet this week, proposes new spot checks for testing centres and random roadside checks for light and heavy goods vehicles, and buses and coaches.
For the first time, commercial vehicle testing centres across the country will have to comply with a uniform nationwide standard, which will be enforced by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). The transfer of this responsibility from local authorities to the RSA will save in the region of €4.5 million.
This matter was prioritised by Minister Varadkar when he took office, and testing staff have already been transferred to the RSA. The new testing regime is due to be launched this summer.
“Our priority with this Bill is to ensure the safety of passengers, drivers and all road users. We want to ensure that the same standards are being applied right across the country, no matter where the vehicle is being tested. That’s why the new system will be more consistent, impartial and accurate,” Minister Varadkar said.
In Ireland, around one in five fatal collisions involve commercial vehicles, yet the existing system has been largely unchanged since 1982. The Bill was drafted to take into account key recommendations from a review of the bus crashes in Kentstown, Co. Meath and Clara, Co. Offaly. The Bill proposes that the RSA will take over centralised supervision and licensing of private testing centres for commercial vehicles. There will also be a new roadside inspections programme to ensure continuous compliance with roadworthiness standards, including random checks of vehicles.
The new system will also include random checks of operator premises, and intelligence-led targeting of operators based on risk, including a ‘Risk Register’ of operators. There will also be a more robust legislative framework for CVR testing.
The new legislation will mean that roadside enforcement, checks of operators’ fleet and maintenance records, as well as the annual roadworthiness test will be linked in a single integrated system for the first time. Resources will be targeted at vehicle operators considered most likely to break the law, while continuing to supervise those with a good track record in maintaining vehicle standards.
It will create a level playing pitch by ensuring that vehicle operators who maintain their fleet are not put at a disadvantage by those who break the law.