Getting tough with hauliers as part of the major drive to save lives
Of these, 25 were cases against road transport operators from Northern Ireland for breaches of European International Road Haulage regulations. I’ve written about the EU tachograph and drivers’ hours rules before. The number of hours a professional driver can drive in a day/week is closely regulated to reduce tiredness-related crashes.
Driver tiredness can cause loss of concentration or worse, lead to a driver falling asleep at the wheel. It is estimated to be a contributory factor in 20pc of driver deaths; it is a significant factor in heavy commercial vehicle crashes. But still some operators view them as unnecessary red tape.
They are, of course, designed to protect drivers and the travelling public. Aside from the road safety implications, operators who break drivers’ hours rules are also profiting by undercutting law-abiding operators and contributing to unfair competition in the industry. Because of this the RSA will frequently mount road-side inspection checkpoints with the garda? and carry out visits of premises, looking for operators and drivers who are operating illegally.
Recently the RSA secured a number of significant prosecutions which send out a strong message to the industry. Following investigations, three road haulage operators were recently convicted for breaches of road safety regulations. One company pleaded guilty to a series of charges for failing to produce and hand over records at the request of an RSA transport officer as well as charges for failing to ensure relevant checks were made on drivers’ hours and failing to ensure correct use of vehicle recording equipment.
The court convicted and fined it a total of EUR9,500 and made an award of costs against it too – bringing the total imposed to more than EUR10,000. Another investigation ended in conviction on a charge of creating false or misleading records for several vehicles. There were further charges for breaches of drivers’ hours regulations and failing to ensure correct use of vehicle recording equipment that were all taken into consideration by the court.
The court convicted and fined the company EUR4,000. In both cases the RSA investigations revealed serious and systematic non-compliance by these road transport operators in ensuring compliance with the European Communities (Road Transport)(Working Conditions and Road Safety) Regulations 2008. Separately, following an RSA roadside inspection, a company was convicted and fined EUR5,000 for failing to produce Community Licence documentation to a Transport Officer.
The EU requires hauliers from other member states who are transporting goods in Ireland to carry a Community licence that allows them to do business in another member state. The court also made an award of costs against the company bringing the total sanction imposed to EUR5,876. The RSA works with other agencies to make roads safer; a more targeted approach towards enforcement is being carried out.
It’s also worth remembering that licensed operators convicted for such offences may be subject to ‘good repute’ checks by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
They could ultimately result in the withdrawal or suspension of an operator’s licence.