More than one in 20 lorry drivers stopped by the DVSA last year were breaking drivers’ hours rules, the agency said this week.
In 2016/17 DVSA made nearly 90,000 checks to ensure that commercial drivers weren’t driving for longer than allowed, risking fatigue-related accidents.
The agency found more than 1 in 20 (5.3%) of drivers had broken the rules on maximum driving hours.
The figures have fallen since 2015/16, when the overall offending rate was 7.3%. British drivers are also slightly more law abiding than foreigners, with 5.1% of British drivers flouting the rules against 5.9% of their foreign counterparts.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said driving while tired may be responsible for 1 in 5 of all accidents and up to a quarter of serious and fatal crashes on Britain’s roads.
The risk is particularly high for commercial drivers, who tend to drive longer distances and spend more time on the road. According to THINK!, almost half of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles, and almost a quarter of injuries from accidents involving lorries are fatal or serious, compared to 1 in 8 of all crashes.
The DVSA says that this is why, since 5 March, it has been issuing fixed penalties of up to £300 not just for drivers’ hours offences committed on the day that drivers are checked, but for up to 5 offences committed over the preceding 28 days.
DVSA Chief Executive Gareth Llewellyn said:“ The DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles.
“There’s no excuse for driving while tired. The results of falling asleep at the wheel can be devastating. Any driver or operator breaking these rules is putting other road users at risk.
“The figures might be going in the right direction but with more than 1 in 20 drivers checked committing an offence, they are still far too high. Tougher penalties will help us to take stronger action against any drivers or operators who break the law, helping make our roads safer.”