Tacho-fiddling drivers from Armet banned

Drivers employed by Liverpool based edible oil tanker operators Armet Logistics have had their HGV licences suspended or revoked, with disqualifications ranging from six months to five years. Twenty seven drivers had been convicted of 348 offences of falsification over a six-month period, and 26 appeared before Traffic Commissioner Tom Macartney at a two-day public inquiry.

The TC was told there had been wide scale falsification of tachograph charts by the majority of the drivers employed by Armet Logistics. Methods varied from removing the chart while waiting to load/unload, winding the clock back on analogue tachograph heads, to removing the chart before commencement or conclusion of the journey to conceal the number of hours being worked.

The drivers were paid for the hours worked, rather than the hours shown on the tachograph charts. The firm had a bonus scheme that encouraged drivers to drive more than 600 kilometres in a day. The drivers had been under considerable pressure from customers to load and unload at times that suited, (ITALS)but(CLOSEITALS) often did not comply with the drivers' hours legislation.

In disqualifying Peter Briggs, who had been convicted of 56 offences, for five years, the TC directed that he retake his driving test at the end of the disqualification period, including initial CPC training and theory test. He said that the pattern of Briggs' offences indicated a persistent and cynical intent to falsify records to conceal significant breaches of the drivers' hours regulations for financial gain.

In disqualifying Christopher Fox, who had been convicted of 35 offences, for three years, the TC said that over a sustained period he had shown a reckless disregard for the safety of other road users. Four drivers were disqualified from holding HGV driving licences for two years. They were Dale Bottomley, John Richardson, Andrew Tanner, and Paul Byrne.

Eighteen-month disqualifications were handed out to Michael Cherry and Hayden Wills; 12-month disqualifications to Keith Podmore, John Pickett, and James Warren. Jeffrey Wills was disqualified for 10 months, David Sprung for nine months, Paul Forster for eight months, and David Stringer for seven months.

George Richardson, Gary Norman, Alan Cross, David Healey and Ian Gates were each disqualified for six months. The licences held by George Felton and Richard Malley were suspended for three months and the licence held by Luke Richardson for four weeks.

Simon Massingham and Paul Render received formal warnings, and no action was taken against the licence held by Stephen Smith.

The authorisation on licences held by Armet in the North Western and North Eastern Traffic Areas has been cut by two vehicles for five months by Deputy Traffic Commissioner Sarah Bell following the drivers' convictions and the company's convictions for failing to produce tachograph records ('Two-vehicle cut over tachograph offences', CM 25 June)

Regarded as a very serious offence

Drivers often falsify records to hide breaches of the hours regulations. TCs, therefore, regard falsification as more serious than the actual offence it tries to conceal.