Benefit of the doubt given in ‘card swap’ operator case

Chris Tindall
June 15, 2023

A Grays-based operator has only just escaped from having its licence revoked after a DVSA traffic examiner claimed drivers had deliberately swapped their tachograph cards to circumvent the law.
Deputy traffic commissioner (TC) John Baker said there was not enough evidence to conclude that this was what was occurring at Neo Logistics, following a public inquiry (PI) in Cambridge.
However, the deputy TC said it was accepted that company director Callistus Okoli left his driver card in the tacho unit and driver Stephen Nwaeze drove without putting his in on one date, and vice versa on two other dates and, as a result of these failings, regulatory action was required.
A DVSA investigation into the firm identified occasions when it appeared tacho cards were being swapped and so interviews with the director and driver took place.
Okoli and Nwaeze explained that the incidents occurred when one of them took over the driving duties from the other and when they were remote from the operating centre.
At the PI, transport manager Ezinma Umerah-Brown said she had been aware of this arrangement, but that the practice ceased since the DVSA investigation and there were now more drivers doing the work.
It was accepted that driving infringements had not been dealt with properly in the past, but the company had employed the services of transport consultants since the DVSA visit.
In his decision, deputy TC Baker said he remained “highly suspicious” about the reasons provided for the card swaps, but on balance he did not think the evidence was strong enough for him to conclude it was done to deliberately flout driving regulations.
He said Olari had claimed the hearing had been “a wake-up call” and he added: “I have decided that they can be given a chance to show that this is true, but the decision is a finely balanced one.
Instead, he suspended Neo Logistics’ licence for seven days and found the repute of the directors was retained but tarnished.
“The repute of Ms Umerah-Brown is marked as severely tarnished in her capacity as transport manager. She should have taken the lead in ensuring compliance was established and maintained and she failed to do so,” the deputy TC said.

About the Author


Chris Tindall

Chris Tindall started writing for the haulage and logistics industry in 2002 and quickly realised there was enough going on to keep him busy for a very long time. He’s covered a broad range of significant issues, including GPS jamming by criminals, platooning, Brexit and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lack of safe and secure lorry parks and he helped secure the release of a lorry driver in a Polish jail due to misuse of the European Arrest Warrant.

Share this article

Vehicle Type