An operator in Scotland has had his O-licence curtailed for two years after an investigation found a culture among drivers of “pulling their cards” to disguise that they were not taking their breaks.
The O-licence belonging to sole trader Jackie McMurray, trading as JM Transport in Cumbernauld, was cut from 10 vehicles to eight until 1 June 2021, following a public inquiry (PI) in Edinburgh on 28 February. The inquiry heard that seven out of the firm’s 14 drivers regularly pulled their cards.
The infringements ranged from two occasions up to 34 and the maximum accumulated driving time was seven hours and 29 minutes by Lee Mulheron – nearly three hours over the four hours and 30 minutes limit. However, of the seven drivers who offended, only two held vocational driving licences.
Some of the reasons given by the drivers for flouting the rules included wanting to finish work early to support the family and because they were experiencing problems at home.
Operator and transport manager McMurray told the PI he was unaware his drivers had been offending because he had failed to compare driver data with vehicle unit data, which would have identified the missing mileage.
Deputy traffic commissioner (TC) Hugh Olson accepted McMurray had been unaware and that there was no suggestion he was putting his drivers under pressure to work longer hours. He concluded that McMurray’s conduct could be described as “an isolated failure” on the part of an otherwise compliant operator.
But in a written decision Olson said: “I consider that given the scale of the breaches by Mr McMurray’s drivers this is a case that cannot be dealt with by a warning. It is all too common for operators to appear at PIs because they do not compare data from vehicle units and driver cards – this is a fundamental failure in any system to control drivers’ hours because it means the operator will not detect drivers driving without cards.”
Driver Joseph Kennedy had his HGV entitlement suspended for six weeks, while driver Lee Mulheron had his HGV entitlement revoked, for 18 months, both effective from 28 June. It transpired at a conjoined driver conduct hearing that Kevin Bereton did not hold an HGV licence and Olson said he was considering taking action against his PCV entitlement instead.
- Why not register for our Compliance Bulletin to receive the latest legal and fleet management advice fortnightly? Sign up free now