external transport manager

The External Transport Manager and what you need to know.

As an operator of a small to mid sized business, one of your primary jobs is to ensure you are fully compliant 100% of the time. This task is, by its very nature quite complex. For Standard Licence holders you must employ a professionally competent person. You don’t need to employ a full time transport manager, that’s where the External Transport Manager (ETM) comes in (if you are a Restricted Licence holder then you should employ the services of an External Transport Manager consultant). In this post, I will explain everything you need to know about employing the services of an ETM.

What is an External Transport Manager and what requirements must they meet?

An external transport manager is a competent professional who generally works for small to mid sized operators to ensure that its vehicles are roadworthy and drivers comply with traffic and drivers’ hours rules. They are also responsible to the wider public, through the traffic commissioner, for ensuring that an operator is compliant. That is to say that if the operator is not doing what the external transport manager is asking of them, then they have a duty of care to inform the traffic commissioner.

Let’s have look at what the Senior Traffic Commissioner has to say. (Statutory document no. 3: transport managers)

A designated transport manager must meet the requirements of Article 4 i.e; be of good reputebe professionally competent and, in the case of an external transport manager, is not prohibited from acting as a transport manager by a traffic commissioner, and is not designated to act in that capacity for more than 4 operators or be responsible for more than 50 vehicles or such smaller number as the traffic commissioner considers appropriate.

How do I know if my Transport Manager is of good repute?

The great news for Standard Licence holders is an external transport manager will have to complete a TM1 form, should they wish to be employed. If there any issues, then they will picked up by the Traffic Commissioners office. However, as Restricted Licence holders don’t need a CPC holder in place (via the TM1 form) and you would like to employ the services of a consultant, then you will need to contact the Central Licensing Office to find out this information.

It’s worth noting that if you are restricted licence holder and you would like to employ an external transport manager consultant, then they should as a minimum, hold the CPC in road haulage qualification.

What are the External Transport Managers’ duties?

I have written a comprehensive post on top line transport manager tasks/job on daily/weekly/quarterly and annual basis, which you can view here.

However, below is a list the duties the Transport Manager should be carrying out according to the Traffic Commissioner.

Drivers administration

  • Manage, audit and review compliance systems to ensure that they are effective
  • Review any shortcomings such as prohibitions and/or annual test failures
  • Ensure that relevant changes are notified in accordance with operator licence requirements
  • Keep up to date on relevant changes in standards and legislation
  • Ensure that drivers hold the appropriate licence for the vehicle they are driving (including non-GB vocational drivers from EU member states who are required to register their driving licences with DVLA within 12 months of being resident)
  • Ensure that regular checks are carried out on the drivers’ licences
  • Ensure regular eyesight checks are carried out
  • Ensure that vocational drivers hold a valid driver CPC qualification (DQC)
  • Ensure that all drivers hours records are kept for a period of no less than 12 months and are made available upon request
  • Ensure that all working time records are kept for a period of no less than 24 months and are made available upon request

Drivers management

  • Ensure compliance with the driving hours rules (EU or Domestic Hours rules) are in place
  • Ensure that drivers are recording their duty, driving time and rest breaks on the appropriate equipment or in drivers hours books and their records are being handed back for inspection as required
  • Download and store data from the vehicle digital tachograph unit (VU) (at least every 90 days) and from the drivers’ tachograph smart cards (at least every 28 days). I always advise VU data and driver data is downloaded and sent for analysis at the same time 
  • Ensure that drivers’ hours records are retained and are available to be produced during the relevant period
  • Ensure that records are retained for the purposes of the Working Time Directive (WTD) and that they are available to be produced during the relevant period
  • Ensure that drivers are adequately trained and competent to operate all relevant vehicles and equipment;
  • Contribute to relevant training and subsequent disciplinary processes as required.

Drivers Operations

  • Ensure that drivers are completing and returning their driver defect reporting sheets and that defects are recorded correctly
  • Ensure that all drivers and mobile workers take adequate breaks and periods of daily and weekly rest (as per the relevant regulations which apply).

Vehicle Administration

  • Ensure that vehicle maintenance records are retained for a period of no less than 15 months and are made available upon request
  • Ensure that vehicles are specified as required and that operator licence discs are current and displayed correctly
  • Ensure that vehicle payloads notifications are correct, height indicators are fitted and correct, and tachograph calibrations are up to date and displayed
  • Ensure that there are up to date certificates of insurance indemnifying company cars, commercial vehicles and plant
  • Ensure a suitable maintenance planner is completed and displayed appropriately, setting preventative maintenance inspection dates at least 6 months in advance and to include the Annual Test and other testing or calibration dates.

Vehicle Management

  • Ensure that vehicles and trailers are kept in a fit and roadworthy condition;
  • Ensure that reported defects are either recorded in writing or in a format which is readily accessible and repaired promptly
  • Ensure that vehicles and trailers that are not roadworthy are taken out of service
  • Ensure that vehicles and towed equipment are made available for safety inspections, service, repair and statutory testing
  • Ensure that safety inspections and other statutory testing are carried out within the notified O-licence maintenance intervals (ISO weeks)
  • Liaise with maintenance contractors, manufacturers, hire companies and dealers, as might be appropriate and to make certain vehicles and trailers are serviced in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

What else should you be looking for?

  • Knowledge and skills – More than just the formal qualification, what experience and skill do they posess
  • Impact – Where the individual CPC holder is recognised as a key person within the organisation so that they can influence decisions relevant to compliance and authority to deal with external contractors. Their position should reflect the professional and personal responsibility vested in the individual
  • Decision making – where the individual CPC holder is sufficiently close to drivers to be able to influence their behaviours and senior enough to influence the deployment of resources and to inform the decisions of the owner/directors/partners
  • Improvements – Your ETM should also be able to help with:
    • Driver/company relations
    • Fuel efficiency
    • Develop your Driver training matrix
    • Transport related H&S policies
    • Ways to maximise on spend efficiency on all transport related areas.

It’s worth noting at this point that operators will also need to have someone in place for running day to day duties on behalf of the External Transport Manager. Otherwise you’re looking at employing a full time transport manager.

How much does an external transport manager cost?

The standard rates start at around £350 for one vehicle plus £100 is usually added for additional vehicles. This can be more depending on your OCRS (operator compliance risk score). If your OCRS is amber or red then there is more work/risk so the price goes up. Have a look at my rates here.

Where can I find an ETM?

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer to this. An internet search is a good start and there are various consultancies who can find ETMs on your behalf. I am currently building a database of available external transport manager, so if you are looking for an ETM then please do get in touch as I may be able to help.

Update April 2018!
Our database is a real success and we now have over 60 transport managers on the books. So if you are in need of either an external transport manager or full time transport manager just fill in the blanks on the form and we’ll get straight back to you. You can find the form here.

How does employment work?

ETMs are freelance, self employed or run their own business and therefore, will bill you monthly for their services. Your ETM will have in a place a contract which you will both need to sign. Your ETM will visit you monthly and you will need to be in regular contact. As mentioned, you will also need to have someone in place to manage day to day duties.

It’s worth noting that Richard Turfitt (TC) recently pointed to a ruling made by the Upper Tribunal in 2015, which stated that a transport manager cannot be a volunteer as they often cannot establish a genuine link to the operator. Also, if you find an ETM who offers their services in name only then I would kindly decline. This is not only frowned upon by the TC but will put your operator licence in jeopardy.

In Summary

  • Do they have the CPC in Road haulage qualification? – If you’re operating abroad, do they have the International CPC qualification?
  • They have their good repute? – Have they ever been in trouble with the Traffic Commissioner?
  • What are their work ethics, what else can they bring to the mix?
  • Do they come with pre-compiled robust policies and procedures which can be implemented immediately?
  • Do they have any experience with FORS?
  • How often will they come to visit you? – No point in having an External Transport Manager in name only!
  • Cost. Don’t just opt for the cheapest solution – you get what you pay for!


Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions regarding External Transport Managers, please do get in touch. Here to share the knowledge!