Make your manual entries!

Failing to ensure that driver's make a proper note on the back of tachograph charts for unexpected events arising in the course of a journey, or even 'off road' driving, can prove costly...

A case from last week should act as a warning to all operators on the importance of ensuring that drivers write appropriate notes on the back of tachograph charts.

In the proceedings my firm was acting for the operator and several drivers in relation to alleged breaches of the drivers' hours rules. For their part, the company and drivers claimed that some of the rules had been broken due to vehicles being unavoidably delayed as a result of road traffic accidents. Another explanation centred on 'off road' driving when vehicles had been used in quarries or at the docks. Unfortunately there was no evidence to substantiate these claims and both the prosecution and court were reluctant to accept them.Sometimes there can be additional evidence available to prove that accidents have occurred (for example police reports) or vehicles have driven off road (weighbridge tickets or gatehouse logs) but on other occasions it might not exist or be difficult to obtain. In such circumstances a clear note, made by the driver on the back of the chart, will go a long way to persuading the court that there is a defence.

In fact if it is seen by the police or VOSA at the time of the investigation it may even deter them from prosecuting in the first place.The note must be made at the end of the day's driving in question - it will loose all credibility if it is added later. If it relates to an accident it should be clear as to where and when the congestion arose. If it covers 'off road driving' it should say where this took place and between what times (though do remember that the rules on such driving will change next month). The note will make it easier for the driver to recall the exact circumstances and therefore help him in giving good clear evidence rather than see him struggling to recall something that could have occurred a long time ago. Operators should regularly remind drivers of the importance of making these notes as it might just help 'save' both of them if the matter comes to court!Andrew WoolfallBackhouse Jones Solicitors

Liquidators turn to Purple

Bosses at network Palletforce have been left red-faced after a temporary member with links to its collapsed predecessor itself went bust after just five months.

Purple Transport of Whetstone, Leicester, ceased trading last week with the loss of 14 jobs. Andy Bonner from Purple confirms this week that the company was in the process of going into liquidation. "Liquidators are being appointed as we speak," he says.

The company had a temporary contract with Palletforce, after being set up by Bonner and Pete Astbury in their wives' names - Sally Astbury and Wendy Bonner - on September 13, 2006. This was just two weeks before Venture Distribution, run by Bonner and Astbury, went into administration. Venture Distribution had been a Palletforce member for just under six years at the time of the collapse.

Palletforce chief executive Mick Scarlett says: "Palletforce terminated its shareholder membership agreement with Venture Distribution and told Bonner that Palletforce could not give Purple Transport shareholder membership as it did not meet the network's criteria."

The network subsequently gave Purple Transport a six-month temporary contract to cover parts of the LE postcode while Palletforce sourced a new permanent depot.

Palletforce has replaced Venture Distribution with three new permanent members: Woodall Transport, John Jempson & Son, and S&J European Haulage.

Motor Transport has learned that Bonner is now working as a traffic planner at Route1 - run by his brother Mike Bonner. In a further twist, Route 1, a member of United Pallet Network has served notice and plans to join rival network, The Pallet Network.