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Effective transport managers

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Transport manager next to coach and lorry
Transport manager


Being a transport manager is a challenging and demanding job because they don’t just report to their employers, they’re also accountable to traffic commissioners.

Whether you work for a small operator, or a large international firm, your statutory duty is the same – to effectively and continuously manage the operator’s transport activities.

That’s essentially the start of your job description.

So what does it mean to be an effective transport manager? We asked the Traffic Commissioner for the East of England, Richard Turfitt, about the key aspects of this vital role.

What knowledge and skills are needed to be transport manager?

The CPC is your entry level qualification to the profession, although some existing transport managers have Acquired Rights.

This gives you the foundation to do the job. But, to be an effective transport manager, you need more than just a formal qualification. It’s absolutely critical to stay on top of developments in the profession and keep up to date with the rules and regulations.

Sometimes new laws are introduced, while existing rules can be revised or updated. Your business may also evolve – a PSV operator might chose to start doing EC work alongside domestic. As a transport manager you need to be ready for any changes because you’re responsible for making sure the drivers and operator stay compliant.

There’s a wealth of guidance and information available on GOV.UK, from the Traffic Commissioner and DVSA, as well as from other government agencies. Trade bodies and compliance organisations also provide a range of refresher courses and additional support for transport managers.

What impact should a transport managers have on the operations?

Commissioners want transport managers to be seen and respected as transport experts in an operator’s business.

Your role should be recognised for the professional and personal responsibility that you hold.

Being accepted as a key person in the business allows you to influence decisions that impact on compliance. It also gives you authority when working with external contractors.

The competing priorities of a business sometimes mean that transport managers don’t get asked if they can manage additional responsibilities. These might affect your impact on other areas of compliance.

So whether you are a nominated transport manager or your own transport manager, it’s important to have an honest conversation about when additional support is needed to maintain compliance standards.

How can transport managers influence decision making?

Are you close enough to drivers to be able to influence their behaviours? Is your role as transport manager senior enough to inform decisions made by the licence holder?

These are the key questions for traffic commissioners when looking at whether a transport manager is effective. You should be able to stop vehicles leaving an operator’s premises if a defect is picked up on the walkround check and instruct drivers to park up if they are going to go over their hours.

You should be supported by the owners when you make decisions in the interests of road safety and fair competition.

Transport managers can often be caught between commercial and compliance considerations and having an impact at this stage is critical. You should remind operators of your statutory duties – and theirs – to guide them in their decision making.

If you’re your own transport manager faced with a similar challenge, it’s worth remembering that you need a nominated transport manager to keep your licence.

Transport manager tasks

Here’s a list of the type of activities expected of transport managers:

  • Manage, audit and review compliance systems to ensure they’re effective
  • Review any shortcomings such as prohibitions and/or annual test failures
  • Ensure relevant changes are reported in line with operator licence requirements
  • Keep up to date with relevant changes in standards and legislation

You can read more about the role and responsibilities of the transport manager in the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Guidance Document

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