Fabian Demicoli

Road Safety – New Roadworthiness Package


On the 18th of December
2013, the EU28's Permanent Representatives agreed to a compromise reached
between the European Parliament and the Council with regards an update of rules
concerning periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles, roadside
inspections of commercial vehicles and vehicle registration documents.

The
scope of these increasingly harmonised rules is to enhance road safety, reduce
emissions caused by poorly maintained motor vehicles and ensure fair
competition for commercial vehicles. It is hoped that the Roadworthiness
Package will help in achieving the EU target of halving road mortalities by 50%
by the year 2020. The European Commission anticipates that these revisions will
save 1,200 lives annually and avoid at least 36,000 accidents a year linked to
technical failure.

The Roadworthiness Package
constitutes three separate factors: periodic roadworthiness tests, technical
roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and vehicle registration. The
current rules, stipulated under Directive 2009/40/EC, outline the minimum
requirements for the periodic roadworthiness tests of motor vehicles – in Malta
these would be Transport Malta's Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (VRT). Despite the
fact that this Directive applies to passenger cars, coaches, buses, trailers
and heavy goods vehicles, it does not apply to motorbikes and scooters.

The Roadworthiness Package proposes
that roadworthiness tests should also be extended to the group of road users
that are at the highest risk. These are the powered two or three wheelers –
mopeds and motorcycles – and light trailers that are under 3.5 tonnes.
Additionally, the proposal clarifies the limits of the scope of the exemptions
from testing Member States may grant to certain motor vehicles. This refers to,
for instance, agricultural vehicles that possess a speed of less than 40km/h
and are not used in intercommunity traffic. When it comes to the frequency of
vehicle testing, the two factors that are considered are age and yearly
mileage. Thus, older cars shall have more frequent tests, whilst high mileage
vehicles shall be subject to annual testing, as is already the case for
ambulances and taxis. The current frequency of periodic inspections for some
categories of vehicles is considered to be too low to ensure that they are
roadworthy.

The Roadworthiness Package proposal
increases the minimum standards for frequency of PTI (periodic technical
inspection) for three categories of vehicles, namely: cars would require a
first inspection after 4 years, then after 2 years, and subsequently require
annual testing (this is a change from the current 4-2-2 minimum standard to a
proposed 4-2-1 minimum standard); cars and light commercial vehicles that weigh
up to 3.5 tonnes that upon reaching the date of first inspection (after 4
years) have a mileage exceeding 160,000 km must be inspected annually after the
first test (a change from the existing 4-2-2 to a proposed 4-1-1). In Malta,
testing for scooters and motorcycles will be introduced with this package.

For commercial road-haulage tractors
with a maximum speed in excess of 40km/h, and commercial vehicles such as
trucks and buses of at least 3.5 tonnes (3,500 kg), on-the-spot roadside checks
shall be conducted in addition to periodic inspections. Thus, this refers to
M2, M3, N2, N3, O3, O4 and T5 vehicles. Light commercial vehicles, such as
pick-up trucks (N1 – below 3.5 tonnes) are notably not within the scope of this
directive. Therefore, Member States have the freedom of deciding whether or not
they wish to perform roadside checks on light commercial vehicles. Transport
Malta in its 2004 Subsidiary Legislation 65.19 on Motor Vehicles (Carriage of
Goods by Road) Regulations highlights the fact that it has already implemented
on-the-sport roadside checks for goods vehicles (minimum gross weight 3.5
tonnes) in accordance with Directive 2006/22/EC. During these checks authorised
inspecting officers shall make use of equipment that is capable of downloading
and analysing data from the vehicle unit and driver card of the digital
tachograph (a device fitted to a vehicle that automatically records its speed
and distance). Furthermore, Transport Malta is following the EU's insistence on
"risk profiling" that enable authorised inspectors to spot actions that conjure
up a higher risk of defects in order to check these undertakings more often
when considered appropriate. In fact, Subsidiary Legislation 65.19 states that
"the Authority shall introduce a risk rating system for undertakings for the
purposes of Article 9 of Directive 2006/22/EC".

Businesses must take note of the
introduction of these roadside checks due to their random nature and should use
them as an incentive to ensure that all company vehicles are roadworthy. It is
estimated that annually at least 5% of all registered vehicles in the EU will
undergo roadside inspections. Moreover, this package also deals with mileage
fraud, where proposals were made so that roadworthiness test results are stored
in national registers so as to identify mileage fraud more efficiently.

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