Coach Options has O-Licence cut for six weeks

The operator was called before the DTC after concerns over a driver’s missing mileage 

Tachograph offences committed by a driver employed by Manchesterbased Coach Options, has led to its International O-Licence being cut from 12 vehicles to nine for six weeks by Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Simon Evans at a Golborne Public Inquiry (PI). 

For the company, Scott Bell said that the issue was one of missing mileage. There were no issues with the company’s other drivers. Tracking reports showed that the driver concerned had been doing things he was not authorised to do by the company off the card.  

The DTC said that it was a serious issue of driver management. 

Traffic Examiner Joanne Broom said that she carried out an investigation in February 2019 when DVSA had been carrying out PSV checks in the area.  

She asked for a sample of tachograph records and she found a number of apparent offences by driver Stephen Bates. She then asked for all the tachograph records and there were no problems with the company’s other drivers.   

The company had checking systems in place. Everything was downloaded within the required time limits, but the company accepted that it had fallen down as it had missed what Mr Bates had been doing.  

There was no clear pattern as Mr Bates had been taking his card out of the tachograph sometimes in the morning, sometimes during the day and sometimes in the evening. He had also not recorded positioning journeys.  

Director and Transport Manager (TM) Paul Stone had been handing over to the Operations Manager and proposed TM Gareth Williams at the time. 

Mr Stone said that the bulk of the company’s work was the carriage of various football club teams to matches. They also undertook religious pilgrimages.  

Historically he had checked infringement reports for missing mileage. He had employed Mr Williams, his nephew, five years ago with the intention of him eventually taking over the business.  

The mistake he had made was not looking over Mr Williams’ shoulder when he took over checking the reports. He didn’t think that Mr Williams believed that professional drivers would “pull the card”.  

Mr Stone thought that Mr Williams had felt that he could trust them, but in the real world you could not. He would be working alongside Mr Williams as TM for the next 12 months. 

Since the DVSA investigation, they had changed the download time for the vehicle units to every 30 days as he considered that 90 days was too long.  

Driver cards were now downloaded twice in 30 days. He now looked over Mr Williams’ shoulder when he was analysing the infringement reports. Drivers had been made aware that if they were asked to do something that was not on the worksheet, they must telephone in. 

Mr Williams said that the infringement reports were emailed to him, and he now went through them in detail.  

Mr Williams had been naive as he had not expected a professional driver to risk his licence and the company’s O-Licence by doing something as stupid as that. It had opened his eyes to what could be going on. It was something that would not happen again. 

An undertaking was given that Mr Stone would attend a two-day TM’s CPC refresher course. 

Cutting the O-Licence, the DTC said that he took account of the fact there was no previous adverse history.  

However, there had been a negligent failure to analyse the missing mileage reports. Mr Bates’ conduct had carried on from at least September 2018 until April 2019. He had been dismissed and convicted of 16 offences of failing to record data, being fined £900.