The Freight Transport Association has warned lorry operators to ensure that vehicles presented for the annual HGV test are fitted with sideguards which meet the full requirements of the regulations regarding fitment, condition and completeness. Although the regulations have not been amended, VOSA testers are to apply a stricter approach towards Construction and Use requirements for sideguards.
There appears to be confusion in the industry as to the legal and annual test requirements for sideguards. In 2000 VOSA advised that vehicles with sideguards of an incorrect dimension should not be failed at annual test because of this. As a result it has become apparent that some vehicles have had sideguards fitted that do not fully comply with legislation.
Recently VOSA has failed vehicles at annual test due to sideguards not being compliant. Because of the number of non-compliant vehicles encountered and representations made by FTA and other trade bodies, VOSA has decided to advise operators of non compliance in respect of sideguards which have parts missing or are of incorrect dimensions until 1 April 2008. This should give the industry time to resolve the situation and ensure that vehicles presented for test have sideguards that fully comply with the requirements.
FTA's National Quality Manager, Paul Whitehead said, 'VOSA has highlighted that an increasing number of vehicles are being presented for test with sideguards which do not fully conform to the required regulations, usually the result of missing sections. This may result from equipment not supplied to the correct specification, having been supplied by the dealer incorrectly, or not picked up during routine inspection.
'Sideguards are an important piece of safety equipment and there can be no argument that they must meet the full regulations, to which there has been no recent amendment, only stricter enforcement.
'FTA advises lorry operators to ensure that vehicles comply with the regulations or they will undoubtedly fail at annual test. Indeed, the evidence suggests that sideguards will become as substantial a cause of test failure as headlight aim currently is, if vehicles fitted with them are not compliant.'