Traffic commissioners "astonished" by the number of bridge strikes

low-bridge

Traffic commissioners said they have been “astonished” this year by operators’ half-hearted approach to preventing bridge strikes.

In their latest annual report, the TCs said the number of incidents was “unacceptable” and that the issue was being left to drivers to address.

The report said: “Disappointingly, thorough risk-based route planning seems to be a responsibility which operators are leaving to drivers.

“We have seen instances of drivers not being given conversion charts and also being left to plan routes without access to information that would identify the location of low bridges.

“Beyond the road safety issues, there are huge consequential costs in terms of checking and repair, as well as delays to rail travel which impact passengers and commuters,” it added.

“Regulatory action is a real possibility for those operators who fail to take action, as well as for drivers.”

The report also highlighted the continued ignorance over the non-transferable nature of an O-licence when a sole trader forms a limited company and that when a business enters liquidation it cannot transfer the O-licence to another company with the same directors.

The report also said: “Astonishingly, we still encounter licence holders who are running vehicles with digital tachographs but who do not have a company tachograph card or the ability to download drivers’ cards.

“It is difficult to comprehend how any operator or transport manager can expect to run a compliant and effective vehicle operation without access to this data.

“They are totally blind to the use of their vehicles and what their drivers are doing.”

Dundee scaffolding haulier disqualified until 2024

O-licence

A Dundee scaffolding company and its director have been disqualified for five years by the traffic commissioner following the repeated unlawful use of a vehicle.

TC Claire Gilmore said AFS Scaffolding posed “a significant risk to road safety” and director Ross Findlay “deliberately and repeatedly” operated a vehicle without the required O-licence.

A public inquiry into the company looked at its illegal use of a vehicle before it was granted its licence.

An application by the business for an O-licence was considered at a PI in February this year before Scotland’s deputy TC, following allegations that it was using a vehicle unlawfully.

Findlay gave assurances to the DTC that the unlawful use had been infrequent and happened as a result of error rather than a deliberate attempt to undermine the licensing system.

The application was considered in detail and AFS Scaffolding was told it could start operating vehicles on 29 March.

However, evidence subsequently gathered by the DVSA showed that the company continued to use the vehicle unlawfully before the O-licence came into force.

Giving evidence to a second PI, Findlay claimed one of the journeys was an emergency job to stabilise someone’s chimney.

He had told the DTC that the vehicle had been parked up for a lengthy period prior to the licence being granted, but inspections revealed it had travelled more than 10,000km between 10 December 2018 and 25 March 2019 – during which time the company did not have a licence.

Additional concerns raised at the PI related to vehicle safety standards, including a lorry that was not checked properly and had been sent out with a tyre worn below the legal limit.

The defect was categorised as safety critical.

In a written decision, the TC said she could not rely on Findlay’s evidence:

“[He] knew he needed a licence to operate, and also that the licence granted by the deputy traffic commissioner did not come into force until 29 March 2019,” she said.

“He therefore deliberately and repeatedly operated the vehicle without a licence.

“Unlawful operation for such a lengthy period undoubtedly resulted in this operator gaining an unfair competitive advantage.”

The disqualification orders against AFS Scaffolding and Findlay will prevent them from applying for or holding an O-licence until September 2024 at the earliest.