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Office of the Traffic Commissioner

Fleet increase turned down after operator took too long to catch up with requirements Commissioner attaches little weight to transport consultant’s report and FORS silver status Whenever a business applies to run more vehicles, DVSA look at the operator’s compliance history to see if a fleet inspection is needed. It’s common sense really. The Traffic Commissioner needs to know the vehicles are being looked after properly at the current level. At a recent public inquiry, the Traffic Commissioner for the East of England, Richard Turfitt, was asked to consider an increase of 10 vehicles and 7 trailers for an operator. Maintenance concerns DVSA’s maintenance investigation revealed numerous shortcomings for the existing 18 vehicle and 3 trailer fleet, including ineffective forward planning, significant gaps in safety inspections and concerns around driver defect reporting with six prohibitions issued for tyre defects. The operator gave a positive and prompt response to DVSA’s visit but key staff hadn’t picked up vital information, such as changes to the agency’s Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness in 2018. Quality of audit reports The Commissioner found issues with audit reports provided by the company, saying there was little in the audit to explain the shortcomings identified. In reality it wasn’t much more than a single page of observations without much evidence to back them up. As a result, he couldn’t attach much weight to the report from the transport consultant or the FORS status. Too long to catch up The Commissioner said it had taken too long for the operator to catch up with current requirements. It should have been obvious what the business needed to do. As...

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner

Operator licensing: the baseline standard for all Scheme provides benchmark for commercial vehicle safety and compliance Your operator licence may only be made up of a few pieces of paper but it’s a vital document. Having a licence means you can use vehicles to transport goods or people and earn income from doing so. An O licence shows your commitment to compliance. That you’ve agreed to run safe vehicles. Check your drivers are working within the rules. And compete fairly with other operators. When you’re bidding for work, you might be asked to show accreditation with other initiatives before you can go for a contract. Schemes designed to promote road safety are always welcome. But it’s important to remember that sometimes the safety element is just one part. That’s why the traffic commissioners regularly remind everyone that operator licensing is the baseline. Gaining accreditation elsewhere doesn’t automatically mean there’s compliance with operator licensing requirements. And it hasn’t stopped some operators from appearing at public inquiry. As a compliant operator, you know that it’s your responsibility first and foremost to achieve and maintain the commitments that appear on your licence...

Kent roads ready for Brexit as hauliers gear up for 31 October

Operation Brock to keep the M20 open in both directions in the event of disruption to services across the English Channel. • vital work will ensure Kent traffic management system, Operation Brock, is ready to go ahead of Brexit • new powers will help protect local roads and ensure hauliers comply with the Operation Brock system • government urges hauliers to check they have the right documents before travelling on 31 October The final preparations to keep Britain moving after Brexit are taking place as traffic management preparations in Kent are stepped up, government has announced today (14 October 2019). Operation Brock will go live on 28 October to manage any traffic disruption and help keep trade moving in and out of the UK. The government has worked closely with the Kent Resilience Forum to implement the scheme, which will manage any delays to Europe-bound freight while protecting local roads from disruption. It will keep the M20 open in both directions for all other traffic, minimising any impacts on local residents, businesses and public services. This comes as the Department for Transport launches a targeted information campaign to ensure hauliers know what to expect if they are travelling to the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel in a no-deal Brexit scenario. Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said: We want residents in Kent and hauliers travelling from across the EU to be reassured that there are robust plans in place to deal with any disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. We now need everyone to do their bit – whether you are travelling to see family, heading to work or...

Office of the Traffic Commissioner: Lengthy ban for licence lending

________________________________________ Lengthy ban for licence lending Scottish waste firm wasn’t scheduling work, covering maintenance costs or paying drivers for vehicles on its licence The lending of O licences is an issue which traffic commissioners take very seriously. First off, it’s a matter of trust. If a licence is being used by someone else, we don’t know who’s running the vehicles. Which means they’ve not faced the necessary checks to get into the industry. But it’s also a fair competition issue. As a compliant operator, you’re meeting all the relevant standards. If someone’s lending a licence, they aren’t working within the same rules. Which means they’ve got an unfair advantage when bidding for work. ________________________________________ Taking action That’s why commissioners take strong action against any operator caught lending their licence. It’s a massive risk to their own business. Take this case, which was dealt with just last month. The company was disqualified for seven and a half years for lending its licence. One of the firm’s directors was banned from getting another licence for the same period, while three others were banned for five years. And the transport manager was disqualified indefinitely. DVSA reported that the company wasn’t scheduling work, covering maintenance costs or paying drivers for four vehicles specified on its licence. ________________________________________ Other compliance issues But there were other concerns too. The traffic examiner found: • the operator didn’t have a company card to download vehicle units or driver cards and had no software to carry out analysis – despite getting digital vehicles in 2006 • a significant number of driving periods with no card inserted when records...

Office of the Traffic Commissioner: Driver conduct: how decisions are made

Driver conduct: how decisions are made Earlier this week we told you about our latest consultation on professional driver conduct. Regulating lorry, bus and coach drivers is a part of the commissioners’ work which isn’t as well-known as their other responsibilities. Each year, around 3000 professional drivers are called to hearings about their conduct. Kevin Rooney, the West of England Traffic Commissioner, has just dealt with a driver who falsified his records. We’ve broken the case down to show how commissioners reach their decisions. The case A HGV driver is convicted of 14 offences of falsification after DVSA investigations revealed serious offences were hidden by false records. To give one example, a vehicle was stationary for only 7 hours and 47 minutes between two full shifts. ________________________________________ The evidence In this case, the offences have been proven in court. DVSA’s evidence from the investigation is also considered by the Traffic Commissioner. The driver gets an opportunity to put his case forward. He says he thought the card could be removed if the vehicle wasn’t being used for hire or reward. He admits taking the tractor unit home on occasions, which was when he removed the card. ________________________________________ The balancing exercise Mr Rooney does a balancing exercise, weighing up the positive and negative features of the case. He says the driver has started to learn from the enforcement and regulatory processes. He accepts the driver’s evidence that there’s been no further offending since the investigation. And the driver was cooperative with DVSA. ________________________________________ The starting points Statutory guidance helps the commissioners to deal with driver conduct cases. It tells them...
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