Thursday 19 January 2017

Here's what really goes on at one of those roadside RSA checkpoints

Our expert takes us behind the scenes for a close-up look at what staff discover on vehicles

Published 26/10/2016 | 02:30

Included among RSA duties are roadside checkpoints
Included among RSA duties are roadside checkpoints

Have you ever wondered what it is the RSA actually does? Apart from putting road safety adverts on TV and radio.

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If so then I'd highly recommend you watch an episode from the current series 'Stop, Search, Seize'.

It goes out on Tuesday evenings on Sky 1. The programme follows Customs and Revenue officials, the gardai and, in this series, staff from the RSA as they go about their duties on the front line.

In the case of the RSA, the cameras follow some of our Transport Officers and Vehicle Inspectors as they take part in roadside checkpoints.

They look for unlicensed haulage operators, drivers who are over their allowed driving time and defective vehicles that pose a threat to safety.

Seeing first-hand examples of what they have to deal with at the roadside really puts into context the stark figures that are behind their work.

RSA enforcement officers attended 1,967 roadside checkpoints last year; 17,319 commercial vehicles were checked; 7,487 or 43pc of vehicles were found to be non-compliant in some way with road safety laws.

The RSA officers found that 276 vehicles were so dangerously defective that our staff required immediate action, such as impounding them on the roadside, requiring repair on-the-spot or making them take a road-worthiness test.

There was an increase in the number of Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs) with major defects, 3,283 (32pc) in 2015 compared to 2,869 (28pc) in 2014; 8pc of HCVs checked at the roadside did not have a valid Commercial Roadworthiness disc displayed, compared with 7pc in 2014.

The increase in defects detected probably reflects the RSA's strategy of targeting those vehicles and companies that we know to be the highest risk on our roads.

Since the middle of last year the RSA increased its targeting of the school bus sector and this continues throughout 2016.

With schools back, there is a focused campaign ongoing at the moment.

Again the strategy is to target those buses and companies considered to be of highest risk.

We have built up a profile of who they are and we will target them to ensure they pose no danger to public safety.

It is simply unacceptable that a bus operator transporting children in this country would use a vehicle that is in an un-roadworthy condition.

While we will continue to target irresponsible operators, there is a role for parents and teachers too.

If you are intending to hire a bus to carry children - maybe it is to take the children to the local pool for swimming lessons - for whatever reason, get the bus company to confirm in writing that they are providing you with safe and legal transport services.

You should ask them to confirm the following: l The bus has a current Certificate of Roadworthiness, the bus is tested annually and on time.

* A daily walk-around check is conducted before the bus is driven on the public road and any defects are reported, repaired and checked by a suitably qualified person before being driven.

* A routine and adequate preventative maintenance system is in place.

* The bus is self-declared to the RSA.

* The bus is listed on a Road Passenger Operator's licence.

* The driver holds a valid drivers' Certificate of Professional Competence.

* To help you in this we have put together a handy Declaration of Compliance which contains a checklist of these important minimum legal requirements.

Download it from www.cvrt.ie, print it off and get the operator to sign it.

If you have concerns about the condition of a bus, please report it to us at the RSA.

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