article was published recently in the Bury Free Press Newspaper in Suffolk
with elbows while rolling a cigarette is just one of the activities of law
breaking lorry drivers on our roads, say police.
five-day campaign which saw officers cracking down on bad HGV drivers who put
other road users at risk showed 170 offences in Suffolk.
Police’s casualty reduction team carried out the campaign last week. Officers
patrolled the A14, A11 and the A12 dual- carriageways with the aim of detecting
a range of offences, particularly those that cause distractions such as the use
the five-day period, 120 drivers were not wearing seatbelts and received a
graduated fixed penalty at the roadside of £60.00.
driver found to be committing a driving licence offence will be later reported
£60.00 fixed graduated fixed penalty notice and three points added to the
drivers licence were handed out to 25 vocational drivers who were seen to be
carrying out mobile phone offences, three were speeding and there were 11
instances where the driver was found to not be in proper control of the
vehicle. In some cases, this meant the driver was steering with elbows in order
to roll a cigarette as stated above, or even using a PDA.
such as cracked mirrors, brake defects and a cracked windscreen were also found
on 10 of the vehicles stopped and the appropriate penalties issued to both the
driver and where appropriate the operator.
Paul Ward, from Suffolk Police’s casualty reduction team said: ‘The
consequences of a driver of a large goods vehicle losing control could be
a mobile phone whilst driving, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt are three of
the four main contributors to serious or fatal road traffic collisions. This,
together with the summer drink drive campaign will hopefully go some way to
reducing the number of casualties on Suffolk’s roads.”
to the success of the enforcement campaign, plans are under way to conduct
similar over the next few months.”
the offences above may seem relatively minor to operators who are struggling to
find decent work for their vehicles they could all have led to death or injury
for other road users and/or members of the public. What’s more, it must never
be forgotten that the Traffic Commissioner will expect every single prosecution
to be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action to be taken, including
informing the Commissioner as to what your findings were and what has been
introduced into your procedures to avoid such non-compliance in the future.
wearing of seat belts is mandatory
- true, you cannot be expected to physically
check that your drivers have put their seat belts on after each pick-up and
delivery, but do you have in place procedures and terms and conditions of
employment that clearly state that it is an offence not to wear a seat belt
when driving your vehicles? Furthermore, do you have company driver
handbooks that again state that seat belts must be worn? Have your drivers’
been provided with a copy of the handbook and induction and refresher training
that emphasises the wearing of seat belts is mandatory and why? If a driver is
found not to be wearing a seat belt do you have disciplinary procedures in
place that can be implemented?
of the above questions should be answered with a yes. If not you are
failing to comply with the obligations of being authorised to operate
commercial goods vehicles and you are liable to be called up in front of the
Traffic Commissioner to answer for your shortcomings.
a mobile phone
- using a mobile phone while driving a vehicle of any description, whether
using a hands free device or not if it is seen to be causing a distraction to
the driver, is a very serious offence and you need to make your drivers’ aware
that Traffic Commissioners are actively suspending the vocational driving
licences of those who have been issued with a prosecution such as this, even
when it relates to while driving their own car. Drivers’ must be very
clear in that the Traffic Commissioners’ have far reaching powers over vocational
driving licence authorisation and can take additional punitive action over and
above what the police or the courts decide, if they feel it is correct and
appropriate. Anyone who holds a valid vocational driving licence is expected by
the Commissioner to be a professional driver and as such of a higher standard
than ordinary driving licence holders. What procedures do you have in place to
confirm your position on this with both your drivers’ and the Commissioner?
- speeding is an
offence that brings with it a great deal of cynicism from drivers’ who have
been allegedly caught by a speed camera exceeding 40mph on a clear single
carriageway road. The accusation of this being another form of tax collecting
is often heard when we discuss this at driver and management training sessions.
However, the law is very clear and the speeds permitted are clearly shown on
the roads and available to check by consulting the highway code. Failure to do
so can lead to prosecutions against both the driver and the operator.
What is your procedure regarding this?
in proper control of a vehicle
- Again, we regularly discuss with drivers
just what is deemed dangerous driving and it is virtually impossible to
quantify. So, if someone with the correct authority decides that they have seen
evidence of a driver not being in proper control of a vehicle it is then up to
that driver and his employer to decide if that allegation is correct and if it
is not to fight it. However, if you haven’t got in place practice and procedures
to clearly show that you are a compliant operator then you may be wasting your
the clear message is …………….. have robust procedures in place and ensure that
all your staff are aware of them and adhere to them ……………………… if not, then operator
Driver information sheets relating to all the issues above are available to Truck UK Onlne Associates to use as part of their ongoing driver training.