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‘Off the card’ tipping ends in O-licence curtailment

  • 03 December 2013
  • By Roger Brown

Deputy Traffic commissioner (TC) Elizabeth Perrett curtailed the O-licence of Fowtrans from 10 to five vehicles for three successive weekends in November after three of its drivers were found to have “tipped off the card”.

At an October public inquiry in Leeds, the deputy TC heard details of a Vosa investigation that discovered drivers at the Middlesbrough-based operator had taken insufficient rest within a 24-hour period, failed without a reasonable excuse to make a relevant entry or record, and knowingly made a false record.

Deputy TC Perrett was told how on 17 December 2012, Lawrence Degnan arrived at a site in Newton Aycliffe at 8pm. His hours were due to run out at 9pm but the tip would take two and a half hours to complete, due to the type of equipment involved. Degnan said he had ejected the driver card at 8:53pm to hide the tip. The vehicle unit revealed a movement without a card being inserted between 10:15pm and 10:16pm, which he admitted was when he had tipped off the card.

Another driver, Martin Bradshaw, had also moved his vehicle without a driver card inserted. Initially, he denied that this had been to tip and told the traffic examiner that he would have pulled the vehicle forward to get better reception for his television. However, the Vosa officer had documentary evidence that he had carried out a tip when the card was not inserted. This revealed that the vehicle had entered the site at 6:20pm and left at 9:05pm when the unloading was complete. The vehicle unit had shown a movement with no card inserted at 9:05pm, with the card ejected at 6:27pm. Bradshaw’s duties had commenced at 6:07am on that day.

In evidence to the deputy TC, the traffic examiner said he felt an unrealistic amount of work was being given to drivers. However, director and transport manager Paul Fowler told deputy TC Perrett that he had never put any pressure on his employees to exceed their hours. Perrett said: “Had Fowler been more vigilant, had his training been more robust, had he made it plain what he expected his drivers to do in any given circumstances, this whole sorry chain of events could have been avoided.”

However, the deputy TC said this was not solely the operator’s responsibility. “Drivers owe operators a duty to abide by the tachograph rules so not to put in jeopardy the licence holder,” she added. Bradshaw and Degnan’s LGV vocational entitlements will be suspended for two weeks from 20 December. A third driver, Trevor Bate, was also suspended for 10 days. All three drivers, as well as a fourth, Alan Bate, were issued with formal warnings. The deputy TC said the firm’s repute, and that of its transport manager, had been very badly tarnished.

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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/off-the-card-tipping-ends-in-o-licence-curtailment