MPA calls for tougher volumetric regulation
Association calling for action to regulate the safety of some of the largest construction trucks on the road
THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) is calling for action to regulate the safety of some of the largest trucks on Britain’s roads – volumetric concrete mixers. According to the MPA, up to 1,000 of these 40-tonne-plus construction vehicles remain poorly regulated despite of years of representations by the Association and others.
The MPA says that, due to a legal loophole, volumetric concrete mixers operate with no effective weight limits, no safety limits on the hours worked by drivers and without any requirement for the operators of these vehicles to hold Operator’s Licences and be regulated by the Traffic Commissioners. In contrast, it says, the familiar truckmixers with rotating drums are fully regulated as HGVs.
The Association says the legal loophole means that volumetric vehicles typically operate at weights of more than 40 tonnes, compared with the 32-tonne limit for equivalent HGVs, and their drivers are subject to none of the stringent drivers’ hours and working-time rules required for HGV drivers.
If an HGV operator flouts the regulations or drivers’ hours rules, they can have their Operator Licence suspended or removed by the Traffic Commissioners, potentially putting them out of business, but volumetric concrete mixer operators are not subject to such regulation, says the MPA.
According to the Association, there are between 500 and 1,000 volumetric concrete mixers operating in the UK, and in some cases responsible operators do operate them in accordance with HGV and drivers’ hours rules.
However, the MPA believes the rapid growth in the number of these vehicles in recent years has been due to their use by operators who do not want to be restricted by HGV weight limits, drivers’ hours or working-time limits, or regulation by the Traffic Commissioners, and who have been involved in a series of legal cases to preserve the regulatory loopholes.
The MPA says it has made representations to every Transport Minister since 2010 calling for volumetric concrete mixers to be subject to the same level of regulation as HGVs. However, although the House of Commons Transport Committee highlighted its concerns in its July 2014 report on Cycling Safety and the Department for Transport (DfT) has now acknowledged that further regulation is required, the Association says that, to date, the proposals are inadequate.
The DfT is currently proposing that operators of volumetric concrete mixers should be required to hold Operator Licences in the future but has not yet made any commitment on timing, nor to extending HGV drivers’ hours or working-time limits to the drivers of volumetric concrete mixers.
The Government has also proposed that volumetric concrete mixers should be allowed to operate at weights 20% higher than HGV limits until 2032, leading to a call from the MPA for much earlier convergence of the weight limits.
Jerry McLaughlin, the MPA’s director of economics and public affairs, commented: ‘It is a significant historic regulatory failure that volumetric concrete mixers are permitted to operate on our roads to standards well below those expected of HGVs. Everyone knows that most volumetric concrete mixers are HGVs using a legal loophole to avoid reasonable regulation.
‘At a time when much of the construction industry and responsible HGV operators are taking concerted action to improve road safety, notably for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, government has not applied safety-critical HGV rules to a growing number of unregulated volumetric concrete mixers on our roads.
‘The Department for Transport has now recognized that change is needed and we hope that action will follow so that the regulation of volumetric concrete mixers and their drivers converges with other HGVs as soon as possible.’