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.”
Director given time to prove his worth
A company director has been given six months to produce an audit that demonstrates his firm’s full compliance – or its application for 12 lorries will be rejected.
Following a Cambridge public inquiry, Rutland Haulage was issued with interim authority, but the traffic commissioner remained unsatisfied that director Patrick Donaghy was fit for a full operator licence.
Donaghy was formerly director of Rutland Haulage under a standard international licence, but this had been revoked and he was disqualified for two years in 2017.
Donaghy told TC Richard Turfitt that evidence put before the deputy traffic commissioner that time had not been true.
He said tyre checks were undertaken, preventative inspections took place and he never prevented transport managers from doing anything that was required.
Donaghy’s claims meant the TC had to decide which version of events he believed and in a written decision, he said he did not find Donaghy’s evidence credible.
He said the operator had not provided convincing evidence to dispute claims by former transport managers and that “where fault was undeniable, Mr Donaghy attempted to shift the blame away to others.”
He continued: “The reality was that no-one was overseeing the transport operations properly and no tachograph analysis was being undertaken, maintenance inspections were neither timely nor effective and the driver walk around checks were not fully effective.”
However, the TC noted that the applicant was now a member of a recognised trade association, which would undertake tacho analysis.
Infringements would be discussed with drivers and follow-up training or disciplinary action carried out.
In addition, Rutland Haulage now had a contract with an external maintenance provider, with a commitment to rolling road brake tests at every preventative maintenance inspection.
But concerned that Donaghy had overridden the instructions of CPC holders in the past, the TC concluded: “I was persuaded to grant interim authority for no longer than six months. In that time the operator must lodge a copy of that audit. That must confirm full compliance before I will allow substantive grant.”