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May 15 2019
By Mike Jewell

Mike Jewell is the industry’s leading legal journalist, covering all key cases brought before Public Inquries, Tribunals, Magistrates and Crown Courts

Drivers’ hours confusion sees one vehicle cut

A lack of understanding of the EU drivers’ hours requirements has resulted in the licence held by Rotherham-based Yorkshire Travel being cut from six vehicle to five for four weeks by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Tim Blackmore.

The decision follows a report from a Traffic Examiner that between 1 January and 1 July 2018, a significant amount of missing mileage was identified for five of the company’s vehicles. There were a significant number of occasions where the company’s vehicles were driven without the use of a driver card. There were discrepancies between the tachograph records and the internal time sheets, with the result that the working time of drivers was not effectively monitored. 

There were multiple occasions where a defective tachograph clock was reported by drivers and the defect was not rectified over a protracted period of time. Vehicles were repeatedly operated without the correct tachograph charts for the model of tachograph installed. One driver was not in possession of a digital tachograph card.

While the TC accepted that some contract work for adult social services on discrete journeys could be interpreted as exempt from EU regulations, the fact that private hire work was also undertaken which was subject to the EU rules and as there was no evidence separating out that work, it rendered all work liable to the EU regulations.

In his decision, the TC said that the shortcomings in the case were largely borne out of the lack of a full understanding of the drivers’ hours regulations.  The failure to adopt robust systems to ensure EU drivers regulations were adhered to had endured over a protracted period of time. The company wrongly assumed that the EU regulations didn’t apply given the nature of its specialist transport for social services.

The fact that private hire work was also undertaken, some 20% of the business, meant that the EU regulations applied for that day and the daily and weekly rests provisions accordingly applied. As a result, a significant number of daily and weekly rest infringements were identified. The failure to adhere to drivers’ hours regulations had compromised road safety and fair competition.

The Transport Manager (TM) Roy Casse should have been fully aware of the drivers’ hours regulations that were pertinent to the company’s specific transport operation. If he was unsure, he should have sought professional advice. 

On the positive side, the TC noted that the company co-operated fully with the investigation and at what was its first public inquiry. That the TM had undertaken a CPC refresher course. That Director Ilyas Yousaf has attended CPC refresher training and an O-Licence awareness course. That the drivers had undertaken drivers’ hours training.  That a transport consultant had been appointed to mentor the TM on drivers’ hours-related issues. That the services of an external tachograph analysis provider had been engaged.  That there had been significant work to address the shortcomings in the company’s drivers’ hours systems.  

Consequently, he considered that regulatory action in the moderate bracket was appropriate and proportionate, given the context of the case and absence of any wilful neglect.    

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