Committee of Transport and Tourism
Phil Bennion is backing the principle of new EU-wide minimum standards for MOT tests as a way of ensuring basic safety for vehicles entitled to drive all over Europe.But the West Midlands Euro MP has put down amendments on behalf of the Liberal Democrats to exclude light trailers and caravans from the scope of the Commission proposals.The European Parliament’s Transport Committee is considering plans to legislate for new minimum standards for safety checks on road vehicles across the EU. A member of the committee, Phil Bennion is the Lib Dem transport spokesman in the European Parliament.He said: “Britain has one of the strictest safety test regimes for road vehicles. This report is basically about raising safety standards across the EU and making sure that vehicles entitled to use roads here and other EU countries are all properly maintained."In effect we have a single market for second hand road vehicles to drive anywhere in Europe and it makes sense to ensure minimum standards of safety tests apply to all of them.“There is evidence from roadside checks in Britain that minor faults on non-UK registered heavy lorry trailers for instance are more likely than on British HGVs, so in principle this is an issue that needs tackling. The incidence of major faults is about the same.“But in my view the key requirement is to raise EU minimum standards where they fall below those in UK current MoT tests. We should follow the evidence and avoid any move to ‘gold plate’ or extend safety tests where it is not necessary, as they will cost money.“I have therefore put down amendments with my colleague George Lyon MEP to stop periodic safety tests being extended for small to medium-size trailers including caravans."Accidents involving light or medium trailers are usually due to overloading or excessive speed and should be dealt with by roadside enforcement.“It is important we strike the right balance between regulations, safety and practicality and keep tests up to date with new technology that is safety critical.“It is important to remember that all vehicles are required not just to pass tests once a year but be roadworthy at all times – there is a need to ensure drivers change tyres regularly and keep vehicles safe.”ENDSNotes: The report is a legislative proposal on periodic technical inspection to set minimum standards across the EU. The amendments tabled by Dr Bennion and Mr Lyon would remove trailers and semi-trailers with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 3 500 kg (vehicle categories O1 and O2) from the scope of the new regulation. The amendments will be debated at the European Parliament Transport Committee next month.The Department for Transport found in 2010 that 29.1% of non-GB registered lorry trailers stopped at the roadside were non-compliant with safety rules, compared to 13.3% of GB registered lorry trailers. In 2011 the figures were closer but still showed a substantial difference, with 19.9% of foreign trailers ordered to make repairs (4.1% immediate as being too dangerous to travel, 15.9% within a specified period) as opposed to 12.2% of British trailers issued with prohibition orders (4.4% immediate, 7.7% delayed).Accidents involving light and medium trailers are in most cases related to overloading or excessive speed, and therefore should be dealt with accordingly through road side inspections.The UK currently tests trailers with over 1020kgs unladen weight. Trailers fitted with hydraulic brakes operated by the towing vehicle are subject to testing and are normally commercial vehicles. Other smaller trailers and caravans that are not tested (most of them) are those fitted with “over-run brakes” - a type of passive onboard automatic braking system (caravans use these). Periodic testing below 1,020 kgs is not required in the UK.O1 (up to 750kg) trailers will normally be used in agriculture for movement of small numbers of sheep, pigs and possibly calves. O2 (750 – 3500 kg) type trailers make up the majority of the fleet in agriculture and other industries.Trailers over 3500kg of O3 and O4 type are periodically tested every year in accordance with the Directive (Britain also also subject them to additional recorded testing, similar to the periodic testing but done in house, every 6 to 12 weeks according to how they are used).