Aberdeenshire haulier J&G Riddell has had its O-licence curtailed from 20 to 15 vehicles for three months, after DVSA examiners found two vehicles fitted with tachograph interrupter devices.
In a written decision following an August public inquiry (PI) in Edinburgh, Joan Aitken (pictured), traffic commissioner (TC) for Scotland, said she had to “place a serious marker” against the firm’s licence, despite there being doubt about when and where the devices had been fitted.
On 18 November 2016, DVSA officers conducted a roadside check at Craigforth of one of the operator’s vehicles - a Scania R730 Blue Stream - and discovered an interrupter device. Although there was no evidence that the interrupter was being used, the vehicle was taken to a tachograph calibration centre where it was tested.
The sender unit was removed from the gearbox, cut open and the internal components extracted. An extra circuit board had been connected to the main circuit board, which had been done to suppress the tachograph readings.
Subsequent investigations discovered a second device in another vehicle, which had been disconnected. According to the DVSA the manipulation devices were sophisticated and required several hours to fit.
Senior examiner Mr Davidson told the TC that he did not believe J&G Riddell had the knowledge to fit them at its yard in Farmton. Aitken said: “There is a very dark cloud of suspicion but significantly for the operator there was no use of the equipment and no criminative or circumstantial evidence which would point to such use being likely.”
The TC also warned the operator and director Gordon Riddell as to their repute. She said transport manager John Riddell, who was given a warning and ordered to attend a refresher course within six months, had “fallen short in not identifying matters which should have been under his gaze and supervision.”
In her written decision the TC added: “Tachograph equipment is there to secure road safety and for no other purpose. Any manipulation of that equipment strikes at the heart of road safety and all the work that goes into reducing deaths and injuries.
"Interference with tachograph equipment is a deliberate attack on the well-being of others and also of fair competition. Anyone who engages in the manipulation of such is party to that attack and undermining of road safety.” The curtailment order will take effect on 19 October.