Private hire and taxi drivers using annual MoT or interim tests to find out what faults their vehicles’ have rather than regular maintenance
Taxi and Private hire vehicles are required as part of their licence conditions to undergo a special MOT up to three times a year. The number of MOT’s required is dependant upon the age of the vehicle and varies from one council to another. Even brand new cars straight off the production line are still required to have the test which consists of a basic MOT with addition checks on the interior and exterior.
A vehicle can pass all safety checks but could still fail if the vehicle has no fire extinguisher fitted, is missing a wheel trim or have a scratch measuring more than 3 inches. The special MOT can also implement tougher rules. For example the road-legal tyre depth is 1.6 millimetres, but a council can enforce a minimum tread of 2mm.
All these tests are there to ensure the council carries out its ‘duty of care’ before issuing a licence, but once the licence is granted responsibility transfers to the owner/operator to ensure the vehicle is kept is good working order between tests.
Unfortunately vehicles are not being maintained because Manchester Council has just published its latest figures which should be of concern to the public in relation to the safety of travelling in Manchester cabs and private hire vehicles.
A staggering 54% of all the fleet fail their MOT’s or interim rests first time which can only be described as disappointing. Figures supplied by the Councils vehicle test centre at Hammerstone Road show that between April 2013 and March 2014, a total of 2,770 vehicles were subject to a major re-test.
This equates to 230 re-tests per month. A major retest is a retest where the items the vehicle has failed on cannot be inspected by a vehicle inspector without the use of garage equipment for example; headlamp pattern aim machine, ramp, emissions/brake testing machine.
More recent data for October 2014 shows 242 major retests were carried out. On average the garage carry out 9,200 tests every year (based over 46 weeks), which is approx 767 tests per month.
242 major retests would equate to approx 31.5% failure rate. Again in October a total of 416 combined major and minor retests were carried out, giving an overall failure rate of 54.2%.
In response to the data Manchester City Council said: “whilst it is recognised that a number of both hackney carriage and private hire vehicle proprietors regularly maintain and service their vehicles, it is of concern from the data supplied by Hammerstone Road that there is a relatively high percentage of vehicle proprietors who do not.”
When you consider that the vehicle immediately prior to mechanical inspection tests will have been transporting the travelling public around it is no wonder the council has serious concerns over safety.
To make licence conditions more robust and ensure that hackney carriage and private hire vehicles licensed in Manchester are, as far as is possible, safe and fit for purpose both for the travelling public and individuals who driver them officers have proposed that an addendum to the policy/conditions should be applied as follows:
Hackney Carriage Vehicle Policy Section 3 (Miscellaneous Policies and Standards) 3.6 B(i) Vehicle Test Standards The hackney carriage vehicle proprietor must:
- at any time during the currency of the hackney carriage vehicle licence be able to produce on request by an authorised officer of the Council or a police constable, *reasonable written evidence that any vehicle owned by him/her has been regularly and properly mechanically serviced/maintained.
- at the time of the Councils mechanical and structural inspection test, provide *reasonable written evidence that any vehicle owned by him/her has been regularly and properly mechanically serviced/maintained.
- reasonable written evidence shall include, as a minimum: o documented service/maintenance history and associated receipts
It is clear that operators and owners of these vehicles are using the council’s tests as a way of finding out what is wrong with their vehicles, which reflects badly on both the council and owners.
Tests should NOT be a way of finding out if the vehicles has faults. Any sensible owner should send their vehicle in for pre-checks prior to tests to ensure they pass, not the other way round.
The fact the council is forcing through the changes should not worry the operators or owners who carry out regular checks and inspections. But this approach where vehicles are checked regularly or maintained is not only limited to Manchester Council.
There has been dramatic changes by councils across the UK compared to twenty years ago. Back then vehicles could be bought for a few hundred pounds and ran for a year, before ending up in a scrap yards.
There is still a lot to do and attitudes need to change urgently in respect to maintaining and servicing vehicles. There is no quick fix and even though Manchester Council should be applauded for addressing this issue they will still face an uphill struggle to change the mentality of some owners who opt for the cheapest form of repair, rather than the safest.