Director who encouraged drivers' hours offences handed two-year ban

 

A director and transport manager who incited drivers to commit drivers’ hours offences by paying them commission once the truck had earned a certain amount of money has been banned from holding an O-licence for two years.

West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton (pictured) said Steve’s Transport director Gurpreet Singh Garcha structured pay arrangements in a way that could encourage drivers to commit drivers’ hours breaches.

Drivers had also claimed Garcha had told them to drive without their cards and to drive without taking their full rest periods.

Steve’s Transport, which is based in Sutton Coldfield, will have its O-licence revoked on 8 January. Garcha has also been disqualified from acting as a transport manager until December 2019.

Drivers told a driver conduct hearing in November 2016 that Garcha had instructed them to work after a second consecutive reduced weekly rest, believing this was legal; told them to remove their cards and put them back in later to show that they were taking a break; and had failed to inform drivers that walk-around checks should be recorded as ‘other work’ .

A DVSA investigation found that no analysis of tachograph data had taken place between January and March 2016. It also discovered that HGVs had been driven for long distances without driver cards present, and the operator had been unable to produce copies of several driving licences.

Garcha told a public inquiry in November that he accepted he should have kept a record of which drivers worked on Saturdays to ensure they were taking an appropriate weekly rest.

He said drivers’ hours cards were now being downloaded every week, had attended a transport manager CPC refresher course, and planned to employ a full-time transport manager.

However, Garcha claimed that he had never told drivers to remove their cards while driving and said he did not consider the 15% commission given to drivers once their truck had brought £1,800 into the business was an incentive to commit offences.

The TC said: “Mr Garcha could not possibly have been sure that the scheme was not encouraging infringements of the drivers’ hours rules, as he was not analysing drivers’ hours data and could not therefore detect either the absolute number or the rate of infringements.

“The evidence is rather that they did encourage infringements by drivers, as they appear to have been willing to drive without cards or work consecutive weekends to get the jobs done.”

Denton took into account the positive steps the company had taken to improve its compliance with drivers’ hours 
rules, but could not ignore Garcha’s failure to oversee drivers’ hours compliance over an extended period of time, and his personal involvement in the offending. “This is not one of those cases where an operator, through naivety, ignorance or incompetence, was unaware of the offences. The safety of other road users has been put at risk and the company has competed unfairly against operators whose drivers stay within the law,” he said.