Vehicle Operator Services Agency - VOSA
Transports Friend is fully supportive of VOSA and the work they undertake as without their commitment to Road Safety and their endeavours to a cleaner environment, the UK would without doubt be the poorer. It is hoped that VOSA and the other three agencies within the group should be allowed to continue the initiatives that they undertake unhindered, in the best interests of all road users throughout the UK, for a safer, better future.
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) was formed on 1st April 2003 following the merger of the Vehicle Inspectorate and the Traffic Area Network division of the Department for Transport. VOSA provides a range of licensing, testing and enforcement services with the aim of improving the roadworthiness standards of vehicles ensuring the compliance of operators and drivers with road traffic legislation, and supporting the independent Traffic Commissioners.
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) contributes to delivery of Government initiatives as part of the Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group. Four of the Department for Transports' agencies, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Driving Standards Agency and the Vehicle Certification Agency, form this group.
As a group, they work together to provide joined up and value for money services to meet the needs of customers, while at the same time fulfilling their regulatory roles focused on keeping drivers and vehicles safe and secure.
VOSA's vision is:
'By 2008 VOSA will be DVO's on-road vehicle and operator standards and enforcement specialist delivering value for money services, targeting the non-compliant, championing safe, clean and economic road transport.'
VOSA's strategy to achieve this vision focuses on contributing towards its main goals of improved road safety and a better environment, whilst addressing wider government goals including: reduced vehicle crime; value for money; customer satisfaction; and a sustainable UK economy.
What they do
- Bus Registration
- Testing and Inspections
- Enforcement and Compliance
- Accident investigation and technical research
- Training and Education
- Working with the Traffic Commissioners
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) complete a number of activities and schemes. The key areas of road safety and environmental standards improvement they contribute to are listed below:
VOSA supervise the MOT scheme to ensure that the 18,000 garages authorised to carry out MOT's are doing so to the correct standards. This is done by:
- documenting all test methods and standards
- approving and training Authorised Examiners and Nominated Testers to carry out MOT tests
- authorising MOT test stations and Nominated Testers
- monitoring standards of MOT garages and tests
- providing seminars and other advisory services
- dealing with appeals and complaints from MOT customers
and, where necessary, taking disciplinary action to improve testing standards and raise levels of compliance.
VOSA provide administrative support to the Traffic Commissioners' in considering and processing applications for licenses to operate lorries and buses. This ensures that licence holders meet the standards set for entry into the commercial vehicle operator industry and seeks to minimise the environmental and road safety impact around goods vehicle operating centres.
VOSA provide administrative support to the Traffic Commissioners' in the registration of local bus services.
Testing and Inspections
VOSA conduct statutory annual testing for lorries and buses at 97 VOSA test stations and at private sector owned approved testing premises (designated premises), they also offer a number of specialist inspections of vehicles. For example: certification of PSVs before they enter service; inspections of imported or amateur built vehicles to comply with acceptable safety and environmental standards (Single Vehicle Approval for cars and motorcycles); and inspections to check the identity of written off vehicles that are returned to the road (Vehicle Identity Check).
Enforcement and Compliance
Supporting the Traffic Commissioners' to help them make informed decision on: operator licensing; vocational drivers and bus registration requirements; and, identifying operators against whom it may be appropriate to take disciplinary action by gathering and evaluating a range of data.
VOSA conduct routine and targeted checks on systems designed to check compliance with other road traffic legislation (e.g. drivers' hours and load weights), specialised inspections for premises storing and vehicle transporting dangerous goods, perishable foodstuffs and goods sealed or Custom purposes; at the roadside as and at the operators' premises, which are also examined to ensure compliance. They also approve applications from operators wanting to run lorries at increased weights.
The agency administers Vocational Driver Conduct cases referred by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, and, where vocational drivers have committed non-edorsable road traffic offences. The compliance of local bus operators with their registered timetables is also monitored by VOSA.
Accident investigation and technical research
VOSA undertake technical investigations into potential manufacturing or design defects, highlighting safety concerns and monitoring safety recalls. They also support the Police by examining vehicles involved in accidents to identify contributory defects.
Training and Education
VOSA provide a range of educational and advisory activities at the roadside, operating premises and on a one-to-one basis, including the provision of publications and videos. They also hold seminars to promote improved compliance of operators and drivers with roadworthiness and traffic regulations.
Working with the Traffic Commissioners
Traffic Commissioners remain independent of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), as they are of the Department for Transport. However, VOSA works with the Traffic Commissioners to:
- Improve road safety and the environment and safeguard fair competition by promoting and enforcing compliance with commercial operator licensing requirements;
- Processing applications for licences to operate lorries and buses;
- Registering bus services;
- Operating and administering testing schemes for all vehicles, including the supervision of the MOT Testing Scheme;
- Enforcing the law on vehicles to ensure that they comply with legal standards and regulations;
- Enforcing drivers' hours and licensing requirements;
- Providing training and advice for commercial operators;
- Investigating vehicle accidents, defects and recalls.
Source - Vehicle Operator Services Agency (Vosa)
The above is an overview about the services and work that VOSA undertake. As operators, we have taken advantage of the education and training that VOSA offer as part of our driver training programs and have found significant improvements in our drivers consideration to other road users, as well as seeing a marked improvement in the proper use of tachographs, daily walk round checks and defect reporting. In our view, operators tend to shy away from contacting VOSA because of their role as the enforcement body on our roads; this is a negative approach and we would encourage more vehicle operators to do the opposite.
To find out more about VOSA, please visit their website at www.vosa.gov.uk