UK lorry inspections ‘vanishingly rare’ says union

A Freedom of Information request revealed that an on-the-spot inspection only happens on average every 87,797 miles a lorry has been driven.

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On-the-spot inspections of lorries and HGV drivers are “vanishingly rare” on the UK’s roads, according to a union.

Unite said a Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that an on-the-spot inspection only happens on average every 87,797 miles a lorry has been driven.

The lack of inspections would be “alarming” in normal circumstances, but Unite said concerns were heightened following the Government’s recent decision to relax the cabotage rules on collections and deliveries.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “These figures are alarming and demonstrate that on-the-spot inspections of lorries and HGV drivers are vanishingly rare on the UK’s roads.

“This has serious safety implications and the Government needs to be explaining how it ensures that all lorries and HGV drivers on the UK’s roads are doing so safely and abiding by the law.”

Unite said its FoI request showed there were 114,653 on-the-spot inspections in 2020/21 to check on the roadworthiness of lorries and if the driver was abiding by the HGV driving regulations.

The number of on-the-spot inspections has fallen by 39% in recent years, said Unite.

The union added that an on-the-spot inspection of an HGV happens on average every 87,797 miles.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Our professional lorry driver members, who abide by the rules, will be shocked by these figures. An unsafe lorry or a driver failing to follow the driving regulations has enormous safety implications for all road users.

“All road users should be seeking urgent reassurances that the companies who are taking advantage of the relaxation on the cabotage rules are doing so safely and complying with the law.”

A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Spokesperson said: “Our priority is to protect everyone from unsafe vehicles and drivers.

“The reduction in the volume of inspections is a deliberate and known consequence of our increasingly intelligence-led approach.

“New technology and techniques available to DVSA mean we can target the serially and seriously non-compliant more effectively than in earlier years, and we focus on the most serious defects and offences with a view to keeping Britain’s roads among the safest in the world.”