Deliver - Brake testing – what should we be doing?

23 July 2019

This is an issue frequently raised with the DVSA and at Public Inquiry before the Traffic Commissioner. Going back to basics, we all know the importance of frequent and effective brake testing; road safety should be paramount in all you do as an operator. So, what is the guidance on brake testing?

The guidance can be found in general terms in the Guide to maintaining roadworthiness and more specifically in the Heavy vehicle brake test: best practice. The highlights are:

  1. Every safety inspection must assess braking performance of the vehicle or trailer
  2. It is strongly advised that a calibrated roller brake tester (RBT) is used at every safety inspection
  3. RBTs should be conducted with the vehicle or trailer laden
  4. It is acceptable to use an approved and calibrated decelerometer for vehicles without trailers
  5. The RBT or decelerometer printout should be attached to the safety inspection record
  6. It is acceptable for a brake test to be carried out in the same week as the safety inspection
  7. Where it is impractical to obtain a brake efficiency test or measure safety performance at the safety inspection then braking performance must still be checked.

So, in practice, we advise that you carry out a laden RBT at every preventative maintenance inspection (PMI) and that the printout is attached to the PMI sheet. Where something is ‘strongly advised’ it is prudent to follow this. Importantly, you should also check the printouts; did the vehicle or trailer really pass the test or was it a ‘false pass’? In order to assess this you need to check that it was sufficiently laden and that it meets the required percentages. The fact that it says ‘Pass’ in the bottom left hand corner of the RBT printout should not necessarily provide comfort if the vehicle was insufficiently laden.

As an Operator or Transport Manager it is your job to make sure brake testing is carried out properly and to analyse the results you get back; it’s certainly something a Traffic Commissioner would do if you were called to Public Inquiry.

The content of this article is from the summer 2019 edition of Deliver and is for general information only. For further information please contact Philippa Dyer or a member of Birketts' Regulatory and Corporate Defence team. Law covered as at July 2019.