Senior TC updates guidance

Traffic Commissioners

The senior traffic commissioner’s (STC) statutory documents have been refreshed and include changes to how operators and drivers will be treated following bridge strikes.

STC Richard Turfitt has dusted down the 15 guidance documents and updated the way the TCs will approach the exercise of their statutory functions.

Most of the changes have been made to bring the legal position up to date and incorporate recent key upper tribunal cases.

A significant addition relates to bridge strikes in the document on good repute and fitness and it now states: “When incidences are brought to the attention of a traffic commissioner they will wish to consider the culpability of the operator and transport manager and they may be called to attend a public inquiry.

“The driver can also expect to be called to a hearing and may face a period of suspension.”

Bridge strikes and collisions with rail infrastructure have become a serious problem in the last few years, with Network Rail claiming the annual bill is £23m.

An office of the TC spokesman said: “The responsibility for avoiding bridge strikes falls on all operators and transport managers.

“They must make sure routes are planned in advance to reduce the risk of bridge strikes, while giving their drivers all the training and information they need.”

Other changes to the guidance documents include an updated position on driver employment status; applications for periods of grace; the approach to abusive behaviour towards officials and the increased penalties for mobile phone use.”


"Worst case" shuts down Glasgow haulier


A Glasgow operator has been disqualified and had his licence revoked after a traffic commissioner heard about “the worst case of breaching the drivers’ hours rules” he’d ever seen.

Scotland’s deputy TC Hugh Olson said Bryce Hopkins, trading as CMB Haulage, was complicit in the widespread and frequent creation of false records among several of his drivers between January and December 2018.

An investigation by a DVSA traffic examiner began following a roadside encounter last year, which found that one of Hopkins’ tipper trucks was being operated without vehicle excise in force, the operator had never downloaded the tachograph data and the vehicle was also overloaded.

An analysis of the digi-tach records also raised concerns about the driver card activity, which led to further investigations and the conclusion that the driver, William Allan, had been using other drivers’ cards.

It also became apparent that more drivers at the haulage business were not always using their own driver cards either.

Bryan Mair admitted 60 offences of knowingly creating false records; William Allan offended on 28 occasions and Thomas Kirkwood knowingly created false records on 10 occasions: a total of 98 offences in less than a year.

In a written decision following an Edinburgh public inquiry, DTC Olson said: “In the main these offences were committed in order to conceal the fact that the driver had driven for more than four and a half hours without taking the required breaks.

“While these offences were serious there were more chilling examples of drivers breaking the driver’s hours rules and regulations.”

He then pointed out that Allan drove two vehicles and was on duty for 58 hours and 15 minutes without taking a rest period of at least nine hours and his total driving over the three-day period was 29 hours and eight minutes.

Hopkins denied he knew his card was being used by his drivers, but the DTC said that as the operator was solely responsible for scheduling drivers’ work during this time, then if he wasn’t aware, “he certainly should have been.”

As a result, Olson found Hopkins was not of good repute and revoked his licence, as well as disqualifying him indefinitely.

In addition, he found that transport manager Stephen Hendry had lost his repute and was also disqualified.

All the drivers were also disqualified from holding HGV licences, apart from Kirkwood, who is now deceased.