Licence loss warning for bridge strikes
The senior traffic commissioner has written to all HGV operators warning them that a bridge strike by one of their vehicles could result in the loss of their O-licence.
The reminder came ahead of Network Rail relaunching a campaign about the problem of bridge strikes and revealing Britain’s “most-bashed” bridges.
It said the structures are struck five times every day on average and that the Watling Street bridge on the A5 in Leicestershire was hit every fortnight in the last year.
Network Rail said that with Black Friday and the Christmas rush approaching and larger vehicles expected on the country’s roads, drivers needed to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ before setting out.
Operators are warned to assess the risks and ensure routes are planned in advance; check that drivers, transport managers and planners are all adequately trained and that drivers are given suitable information about their vehicles.
Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive said: “There’s real headway being made and we’re seeing a drop in bridge strikes, but we must keep up this momentum to avoid these dangerous and costly incidents.”
Operator pays price of growing too fast
A haulage operator that “grew too fast” has had its licence cut by two trucks for 14 days after a DVSA investigation found numerous vehicle defects, incomplete records and a lack of drivers’ hours monitoring.
Peterbrough-based Highway 86 Transport, which holds an international O-licence authorising 10 vehicles and 10 trailers, had sought an increase, which prompted a desk-based assessment by the enforcement agency.
This uncovered a range of issues relating to first use checks; driver defect reports and a lack of regular brake performance testing.
A follow up by a vehicle examiner a month later found vehicles with inoperative lights and insecure wheel nuts. In addition, inspection records for three HGVs were not available and the operator could not produce metered brake efficiency test records.
Highway 86 Transport, which began work in 2016 with one truck for two-shift, traction-only container transport out of Felixstowe, admitted that it grew too fast between 2017 and 2019 and the situation was made worse by a restructure of the business when container work reduced in 2019.
The company had no previous public inquiry history and it told the Cambridge PI that it had now made significant improvements and overhauled its procedures.
However, in a written decision, TC Richard Turfitt criticised director Marcin Marcinowski and transport manager Mateusz Marcinowski for being too slow to react to mounting problems:
“It should have dawned on them that the [tachograph] analysis was not being carried out and that missing mileage reports were not being produced,” he said.
“Their lack of attention is to blame for the drivers’ hours infringements, including 21 instances of driving without a driver card. Entirely reactive work has attempted to show that a number of offences occurred when the vehicle was off the road.”
The TC accepted the vehicle examiner’s point that a number of infringements arose from driving only a few minutes over the permitted time, but he said: “I am not attracted by representations based on percentages of failure. Drivers’ hours compliance has frequently been referred to by the upper tribunal as fundamental to road safety.”