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.
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.
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 the agreed starting points for different types of offending by drivers.
In the case of false records, the starting point for pulling the card (for more than six offences) is revocation and disqualification for 12 months.
Mr Rooney assesses whether there’s any reason to move away from the starting point.
He says the driving was excessive to the point where it was, at times, clearly dangerous. The driver chose to hide the true facts of his driving, regardless of the motivation.
But this is balanced against the cooperation and learning that’s taken place.
The Commissioner issues his decision.
Weighing up the evidence, he decides there’s no reason to move away from the starting point.
The driver’s professional licence is revoked and he’s disqualified for 12 months.