A West Lothian haulier that committed serious and serial breaches of drivers’ hours rules has been stripped of its O-licence by Scotland’s traffic commissioner (TC) Joan Aitken.
MJB Road Haulage director Ian Russell MBE and former director Diana Russell have been disqualified from holding an O-licence for four years.
Transport manager Darren Drummond was banned from holding a transport manager position for four years and disqualified from driving trucks for two years.
The Whitburn-based company came to the DVSA’s attention in May 2015 when examiners found driver Alexander Gunn had committed 21 significant drivers’ hours offences, including driving without a break and exceeding the daily driving limit. He had also removed his driver card and reinserted it when he saw the DVSA’s vehicle.
It emerged that the company had never downloaded Gunn’s digital card and had no knowledge of the Working Time Directive.
Analysis of drivers’ hours data revealed a significant number of occasions where drivers had driven without a card in use.
Vehicles were also witnessed without O-licence discs being displayed and examiners were concerned that it was operating in excess of its two-vehicle authorisation. It owned five vehicles, later four, but only had two O-licence discs.
Ian Russell admitted at a public inquiry (PI) in November that the company was operating five vehicles, despite only having permission for two. It had applied to increase its O-licence authorisation but this had not yet been granted.
He admitted handing control of the day-to-day running of the business to his son, Drummond.
Drummond said he had incorrectly told his father that interim permission to increase its fleet had been granted when he knew it had not, which is why the business had exceeded its authorisation. It only reduced its fleet back to the permitted level when it became aware of the PI.
Drummond had also delegated a lot of his work to another colleague and assumed that compliance was being managed in his absence.
The TC found that the company was no longer using its authorised operating centre and supplied no evidence of financial standing to the TC. It also failed to produce preventative maintenance inspection evidence and drivers’ defect reports.
She said that driving without a card, including by the firm’s transport manager, was a “regular feature” at MJB Road Haulage throughout 2015.
The TC said: “The impression I gained of Mr Russell MBE is that he considered himself too important to deal with DVSA who were not important to him at all.
“No other operator would hazard the thought that such non-compliance could be met with an increased authorisation. Few operators would have been so dismissive of drivers’ hours offending – he [had] no understanding of how compliance works.”
Gunn had his HGV driving entitlement disqualified for 12 months. Another driver, Robert Bell, received a warning about his conduct as an HGV driver.
MJB Road Haulage of Whitburn is not to be confused with MJB Haulage based in Warlingham, Surrey.