The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency has revealed that more than 1 in 20 of the goods vehicle and bus drivers it stopped last year had breached drivers’ hours rules, in new figures released shortly before Transport Operator‘s April print edition closed for press.
In 2016/17, the agency made nearly 90,000 drivers’ hours checks, and discovered that 5.3 per cent of drivers had breached the limits. The figures were down on the previous year, when the overall offending rate was 7.3 per cent.
Those who had broken the rules this year included 5.1 per cent of GB lorry drivers, 5.9 per cent of foreign lorry drivers, and 9.4 per cent of foreign light goods vehicle drivers. Bus and coach drivers fared slightly better, with 3.7 per cent of GB drivers and 4.9 per cent of foreign drivers found to be breaking the law.
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “The figures might be going in the right direction but with more than 1 in 20 drivers checked committing an offence, they are still far too high.”
He said that the tougher penalties introduced last month for drivers’ hours offences would help the agency make roads safer. Since 5 March, DVSA examiners have had the power to issue on-the-spot fines for up to five drivers’ hours offences committed in the last 28 days at any single roadside check.
The change, which was first announced last September, means that drivers can now face fines of up to £1,500 in a single check if consistent rule-breaking is uncovered, regardless of whether the offences took place in Great Britain or elsewhere.
Non-GB-resident drivers will need to pay their fines immediately, or face their vehicles being immobilised.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it supported the DVSA’s action, but that it remained concerned about a lack of legal rest areas where drivers could park in order to take the necessary breaks.
“We welcome enforcement that increases road safety and ensures drivers get their rest breaks,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett.
“And it will certainly help DVSA get a grip on drivers who’ve crossed into the UK having driven long distances without sufficient breaks before they’ve got here.
“Whilst we support action against firms who deliberately flout drivers’ hours rules, we also call on the government to address the urgent need for more lorry parking areas so that drivers have somewhere secure to rest.”
Image: DVSA Crown copyright