The government is streamlining the process for enforcing drivers’ hours.
Drivers who have committed an hours offence at any time in the previous 28 days will get on-the-spot fines at the roadside. .
The Department for Transport (DfT) says this will bring the UK into line with Europe, which has used this system for some time. In addition to creating a ‘level playing field’ for both UK and foreign drivers, it will also reduce pressure on the courts.
The range of on-the-spot fines for PCV and HGV drivers â€“ called Graduated Fixed Penalties â€“ were introduced in 2009 for offences such as failure to produce a digital tachograph card (when held) or overloading.
Currently, for breaches of EU Drivers’ Hours rules, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) can only be issued by an enforcement officer who believes an offence has, or is being, committed â€œon that occasionâ€ â€“ i.e. being committed at the time that the compliance check is taking place.
The proposed changes mean that â€œhistorical offencesâ€ â€“ up to 28 days â€“ will be brought into the FPN system. Currently, these are only prosecuted through the courts.
As with all FPNs, the driver will still be able to choose to contest it in court.
The measures â€“ which will also apply to the enforcement of Domestic Drivers’ Hours regulations â€“ retain the ability for the enforcement officer, usually the police or Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), to require a deposit to be paid if the driver cannot provide a â€œsatisfactoryâ€ UK address.
This mainly applies to foreign drivers, and is designed to prevent them leaving the country without paying the FPN.
Announcing a consultation on the proposals, the DfT says: â€œEffective enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules is important, as the majority of accidents are due to driver error (about 65%) and tired drivers are more prone to making mistakes than alert drivers.
â€œIn addition, the larger the vehicle the more likely any accident would result in drivers/passengers being killed or seriously injured.â€ .
The DfT also says that the move is supported by the Transport Select Committee, which has called for legislative changes to enable FPNs to be issued to drivers who have committed a drivers’ hours offence in the past (i.e. a â€œhistorical offenceâ€).
The proposal to extend the FPN and deposit legislation is only to cover offences already subject to a FPN, such as: failure to take the required breaks or rests; failure to comply with the driving limits or in the case of domestic rules, the duty limits.
Responses to the consultation must be made by 11 August.