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The traffic commissioners have repeated their warning to hauliers providing traction-only services about their responsibilities for the condition of trailers, following a spate of cases at public inquiries.

In their annual report, the TCs said trailer suppliers, including those based outside of the UK, were avoiding their responsibilities to ensure the safe operation of trailers.

“The lack of adequate arrangements regarding regular and frequent brake testing has been a prominent failing,” the report said.

“The potential impact on British roads is significant.

“For the avoidance of doubt, operators providing traction-only services to third-party trailers are responsible in law for the condition of that trailer when in use. Transport managers are also required by law to manage the transport operation continuously and effectively.”

At a PI in Cambridge last month, senior TC Richard Turfitt criticised Enero Logistics for having no means of demonstrating compliance in respect of its third-party trailer operations.

“Indeed, [director] Mr Lembicz appeared to be unaware of any responsibility despite the requirements on this operator’s licence,” Turfitt said in his written decision.

“An operator providing traction-only services must have trailer authority on that licence and must specify an inspection period.

“The trailer provider is likely to have its own inspection periods, which should be based in part on the age and characteristics of the trailers and work involved.

“The operator needs to satisfy themselves that it is appropriate,” he added.

“The operator must ensure that any trailer it operates meets the stated frequency for inspection.”

The annual report also highlighted that there are 70,319 goods vehicle operator licences in issue, up from 69,528 in 2020/21.