Long ago - before the inexorable march of fixed penalties and the advent of driver walk-around apps – operators and drivers might be expected to be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court for road transport offences: excess weight, drivers’ hours, insecure loads and other C&U offences. A possible follow-up Traffic Commissioner public inquiry might then take place.
Drivers’ hours penalties increase 465%
The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed a massive increase in the number of drivers’ hours fixed penalties issued from March 2018 - the first twelve months since changes were introduced – from 4,236 to 19,723 penalties. The number of roadside drivers’ hours checks fell from 80,418 to 73,147 but there was a significant increase in the income and value of the number of penalties issued since 1 March 2018 - from £478,400 to just over £3.6M.
If your fleet maintenance is carried out by an external provider, a separate legal entity, it is easy to think of your contractor as remote and not part of your legal responsibility to maintain fit and serviceable vehicles on the road – but this is not the case writes Tim Ridyard.
Having the soundest maintenance regime is key to safe and efficient fleet operations and the preservation of the Operator’s Licence, without which the business cannot function. The maintenance provider may often be external provider or an internal resource or a combination. From an operator licensing point of view it matters not: the standard to be achieved is the same and, to quote IRTE, whilst “vehicle operators can sub-contract their vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance, they cannot sub-contract their responsibilities for vehicle road worthiness.”
It is very important for operators to keep abreast of operator licensing developments at all times. The Senior Traffic Commissioner has drafted changes to the Guidance documents governing operator licensing. A consultation closed on 27 August and one can assume they all will come into force. ‘Self-employed’ drivers, ‘periods of grace’ and continued professional development for transport manager are just three areas of note we highlight here.
What is this? Trailer registration? For all operators?
New arrangements will be coming into force for the registration of some trailers used commercially over 750kgs (maximum permitted laden weight). Will this affect you and if so what do you need to do?
The answer is: it depends.
If you are going to use trailers for commercial international journeys (except Ireland and a limited number of other countries) you are affected and will have to register any trailer through DVLA to carry out such operations from 28 March 2019.
Road transport lawyer Tim Ridyard from Ashtons Legal explains the importance of compliance by highlighting three hot topics: Driver licence checking; Emissions cheats and; Category B licences
Driver licence checking
Recent coverage of the appalling M1 minibus fatal crash (that led to two prison sentences of 14 years and 20 months) has led to debate about employers not being informed when their employee drivers have lost their driving licence. In this case one driver had lost his licence to drive a month prior to the accident. The employer had a regular licence checking system in place.
It is an offence for an individual or business to ‘cause’ or to ‘permit’ driving without the correct licence (and hence without insurance). It will not be regarded as ‘permitting’ if there is an adequate checking system in place.
Any business should be carrying out driving licence checks at regular intervals after first being employed. The DVLA now recommends three monthly interim checks. Employers must inform drivers that they will carry out regular checks and implement this. There is no automatic mechanism whereby DVLA informs a business that one of its drivers has lost the right to drive. It would mean at any given time DVLA being aware of every business a driver was working for. There is no plan for this.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN FLEET MANAGER APRIL/MAY ISSUE 2018
In July 2016 the European Commission found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF had broken EU Anti-Trust Rules through colluding for a period of 14 years on truck pricing as well as passing on of costs of stricter emission rules. The Commission imposed a fine of nearly three billion Euros and paved the way for those affected by the price-fixing cartel to claim compensation for any over payments made.
The Truck Cartel case, as it has been nicknamed, is currently a very big issue in the transport sector. For those businesses and individuals who bought, leased or purchased new or used goods vehicles or trucks between 1997 and 2011 it means they can bring a claim for compensation of at least 10% of the purchase price, perhaps more. Many people affected would have bought fleets of such vehicles and in their case the potential compensation could be very large indeed.
Ashtons Legal is urging people who bought, leased or purchased new or used goods vehicles or small trucks weighing six tonne upwards to get in touch as they may be entitled to compensation. Some claimants will be those that transport goods as their business but also some will transport their own goods such as farmers, manufacturers, scaffolders, builders, construction workers, engineers and those involved in waste disposal and skips.
Claims in the UK will be brought before the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). In order to bring a claim for compensation claimants will need to provide clear evidence of purchasing or leasing goods vehicles or trucks weighing six tonnes or more. Calculation of the level of overpricing will be a complex matter involving experts and having regard to numerous factors.
Ashtons Road Transport and Regulatory Team can help those who believe they may have been affected by the price-fixing and these such cases will be funded on a no-win no-fee basis, meaning there will be no need to provide funds as the case progresses.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN FLEET MANAGER
APRIL/MAY ISSUE 2018
Revised rules (from 5 March 2018) mean that police and DVSA examiners will be able to issue fixed penalty offers to commercial drivers for drivers’ hours breaches that are ‘historical offences’ i.e. they will cover not only offences committed or being committed on the occasion of the roadside stop, but also earlier offences i.e. those committed in the 28-day period prior to the day of the stop.
When graduated fixed penalties were first introduced in May 2009, they did not include this new and wider power. Only over time will impact of the broader power become clearer.
What offences are covered in this change?
The new Community Drivers’ Hours Offences (Enforcement) Regulations 2018) relates to offences committed by UK and non-UK drivers relating to EU drivers’ hours rules, record keeping and failure to comply with any prohibition imposed for a drivers’ hours breach.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN FLEET MANAGER MAGAZINE FEB/MARCH 2018 ISSUE
So what has 2018 in store so far as new or amended regulations are concerned? As in recent years don’t expect any ‘blockbuster’ new legislation to wrestle with, that will dramatically change the way a business has to operate.
However, there are quite a few areas of planned changes that businesses need to be aware of to keep up-to-date.
Hovering in the background above all businesses is a continuing enforcement landscape where, whilst there is now a heavy emphasis on fixed penalties and alternative disposals to criminal court sanctions, the penalties for what might be termed ‘duty of care’ offences (health & safety offences, gross negligence manslaughter etc) are now very significant.
As highlighted at our recent Utility Fleet Forum conference, whereas a total only two fines of more than £1M had been imposed in the whole two-year period prior to 2016 no less than 18 were imposed in that year and this has already been exceeded in 2017. This follows a change in sentencing guidelines introduced in February 2016. Expect this significant trend to continue.
In this area we can expect to see likely implementation of harsher sentencing guidelines for gross negligence manslaughter and the Government has indicated it will press ahead with increased sentences for death by dangerous driving and death by careless driving whilst unfit through drink/drugs. A new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving it also to be brought in.
The onward march of the fixed penalty will continue in 2018 with (finally!) the introduction of drivers’ hours fixed penalties for historical offences i.e. those committed in the 28 days preceding the occasion of the DVSA /police roadside stop. Currently this is planned to be in force from February 2018 through the Community Drivers’ Hours Offences (Enforcement) Regulations 2017. Expect more penalties issued to drivers, therefore.
With “automated vehicles” a driver can hand over control to the vehicle that is then driven by the on-board technology, for part or whole of the journey. Entire journeys may increasingly be conducted by the automated vehicle itself.
Accidents involving non-automated vehicles are normally caused by human error. In 2016 85.9% of collisions causing injury involved human error. But what happens if an automated vehicle has a fault and there is an accident after driving has been handed over to the vehicle by its driver? Who will pay compensation for injury and damage? The manufacturer? The driver who handed over control to the vehicle?