Hauliers providing a traction-only service to major home delivery companies need to keep a close eye on the state of the trailers they are collecting.

They may not have been inspected or maintained regularly; and if you’re caught hauling one with serious defects, then that could have implications for your O-licence.

That was the warning issued by West of England Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney, speaking at the recent Road Transport Expo.

He’s becoming increasingly concerned about the number of companies running large numbers of trailers that rely on third parties to pull them, but are not themselves O-licence holders.

“Some of those unloved trailers may have been picked up and dropped off by half-a-dozen different operators within a very short space of time,” he told delegates. "If this happens frequently, and they are not being properly maintained, then this is unlikely to bode well for their state of health."

More and more trucks are appearing with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which feature radar and camera-based technology designed to prevent collisions by triggering the brakes in an emergency. They can be switched off by the driver, often for legitimate reasons; if a snowplough has been mounted on the front of the truck, for example.

Drivers are sometimes switching them off for no good reason at all however, Rooney added. “Operators need to lay down a clear policy of when they should be used and what the driver should do if the ADAS fails half-way through a journey,” he said.

The number of outstanding O-licence applications is falling steadily Rooney said and should hopefully become less of an issue. Bear in mind, he added, that from August all applications will have to be digital.

“Ninety-five per cent of them are already, and we now intend to move the remaining 5% away from paper,” he said.

By Steve Banner