Overloading and drivers' hours issues cost Scorpion Engineering fleet increase
A Swindon-based recovery firm has been denied an increase in fleet authorisation until there is clear evidence that it has eradicated drivers’ hours and overloading issues.
Scorpion Engineering was found to have operated an overweight vehicle on more than one occasion; allowed breaches of the drivers’ hours regulations to take place; and allowed one driver to almost habitually create false tachograph records.
According to evidence presented by the DVSA at a public inquiry in Bristol last month, a driver was discovered to have exceeded the four-and-a-half hours driving limit on four separate occasions when he was stopped at Boston Spa weighbridge earlier this year.
A separate encounter at the same weighbridge found that another driver had exceeded 10 hours of driving and had taken insufficient daily rest within a 24-hour period. The 7.5-tonne truck was also overloaded by 500kg.
West of England traffic commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney discovered that the company had no systems in place to identify such offences.
He found no evidence to suggest that director Nigel Hannon had pressurised drivers to commit hours offences, but did not accept Hannon’s claim that the overloading was a miscalculation, as it happened again at a later date.
Issues with maintenance inspection documentation was also identified, including brake efficiencies and tyre tread depth not being recorded.
The TC also noted shortcomings with driver defect reporting. Defects were not signed off as rectified and often appeared on repeated inspection sheets.
Rooney said it would be disproportionate to put the firm out of business, as it had brought in a new transport manager, an external trainer/consultant and company secretary with background in systems and controls.
However, he refused to grant Scorpion Engineering permission for an additional three vehicles and four trailers until it put things right.
“Any future application to increase licence authority will be more likely to succeed if accompanied by a comprehensive third party audit of all compliance systems and with specific attention paid to journey scheduling, tachograph analysis, unaccounted driving and maintenance,” Rooney said.