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.”
First offence leads to suspension
A scaffolding firm with a host of compliance issues was saved from having its licence revoked after taking remedial action.
Another Level Scaffolding escaped with a two-week suspension at a PI in Cambridge, although TC Richard Turfitt said the Basildon operator’s fitness to operate had been “severely tarnished” by its actions following a DVSA roadside stop in 2018.
It was discovered that the vehicle’s tachograph had not been downloaded since the previous year. Instances of driving without a driver card were also identified.
A follow-up visit took place in August 2019, where a DVSA traffic examiner met with director John Mann and found that downloads were not taking place, no working time records were available, two vehicles were missing ministry plating certificates and two V5 documents had incorrect details. Shortcomings were still identified at a second site visit in November 2019.
The operator said instances of drivers forgetting to insert their cards had been eradicated, although the TC said there was still no effective disciplinary process in place.
However, despite being satisfied that O-licence breaches had occurred, the TC said this was a first PI and Covid-19 restrictions may have prevented some action.
Undertakings were added to the licence.