Traffic commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney has stripped a Somerset-based groundworks firm of its O-licence, but said it could be brought into compliance with commitment and investment.
The TC for the West of England (pictured) revoked K & J Hodge Contractors’ permission to run HGVs following a public inquiry in Bristol last month, during which the DVSA presented evidence of numerous drivers’ hours and maintenance issues.
An investigation found that the Taunton-based firm had no system for the scheduling of drivers’ duties; did not analyse tachograph records; did not store tachograph records; had no system for driver training on drivers’ hours; and had no system to monitor tachograph calibration dates.
Furthermore, driving licences were checked only every two years, and it had not specified its 7.5-tonne truck on its O-licence.
The investigation was triggered following the discovery of a driver who had not been using a tachograph to record his journey. Although many of the operator’s journeys are exempt from drivers’ hours rules, this particular journey was in scope as the vehicle was towing a trailer. The vehicle was also found to be overweight.
Maintenance documents presented at the hearing revealed that the 7.5-tonne truck had not been inspected for 37 weeks, despite DVSA guidance suggesting that such a 15-year-old vehicle should be looked at every six.
However, the TC also took into account a number of positive actions K & J Hodge Contractors had taken, including the introduction of documentation recording drivers licence expiry dates and penalty points. He described it as a positive step that could be enhanced if it were to include the categories of vehicle that drivers were entitled to drive.
“A period of not being able to use the large goods vehicle may allow the company to reflect on whether it really wants to be operating such vehicles or whether it might better manage with just 3.5 tonne and 4x4 vehicles,” said Rooney.
He added that it was appropriate that the O-licence came to an end immediately.
“That said, I believe this is an operator who may be able to be compliant in the future. All that is required is a decision to do so, backed up with commitment and a little investment. For that reason, I make no order of disqualification,” the TC added.
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