Legal update: September 201906 September 2019

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Driver conduct consultation closes

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner recently closed a consultation on its professional driver conduct guidance. Now, senior traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt is planning to update it in the following areas, among others: the starting points for taking action against professional drivers; cases involving armed service personnel; and case studies of how drivers are dealt with.

New face at the top

Appointed on 24 July 2019 as secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps sees a return to the cabinet in an extensive clearing out by Boris Johnson, the new prime minister. His appointment comes following Chris Grayling’s resignation from the post, just as Johnson came into office. Shapps is no stranger to the cabinet, having held the position of minister of state for the department of international development in 2015.

Top prohibitions

DVSA recently published its latest round of enforcement statistics. The top prohibition defects found for HGVs were: brake systems and components, condition of tyres and service brake operation. For trailers, they were: brake systems and components, suspension and tyre conditions. The most prosecuted offences were: drivers’ hours, tachographs/records and overloading.

For bus and coach, the top prohibition defects found were: seat belts, brake systems and components, driver and passenger doors. The top prosecuted offences for bus and coach were: drivers’ hours, tachographs/records and driver licences.

Brexit impact clarified

The government has agreed with the EU an extension of the UK’s EU membership until 31 October 2019 at the latest. The DVSA has recently released new guidance on this for hauliers, which is summarised below. The extension means that UK hauliers can continue to operate across the EU as usual, without needing an ECMT permit, until 31 October 2019 at the earliest. In addition, the EU has passed a new law ensuring that, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, more than 90% of journeys to the EU will not require an ECMT permit for the remainder of 2019. Operators will still have to monitor regulations around insurance, drivers’ licences, cabotage and Driver CPC, which may not be clarified until very late in the day if there is no deal. It remains very important to monitor the government and RHA websites to get the latest position as the final deadline approaches.

Towing warning

Driver licence validation service Licence Bureau is warning operators to ensure they fully understand the licence requirements for towing loads, due to the confusing nature of appropriate licences. The date on which an individual passed their test is key. See also:

Road Safety Action Plan

The Department for Transport has published its Road Safety Action Plan, aimed at reducing the number of people killed or injured on roads. The statement focuses on four main groups: young road users, rural road users, motorcyclists and older vulnerable road users.

It sets out 74 measures being considered to improve road safety, including increased penalties for failing to wear a seatbelt and an investigation into the effectiveness of alcolock devices, which detect alcohol in a driver’s breath and stop a vehicle from starting if the level is too high.

In other road safety measures, the government is currently consulting on banning tyres aged 10 years and older from buses, coaches, minibuses and lorries. If proposals are supported, new laws could be introduced later this year, ready to come into force early 2020. The Department for Transport’s Road Safety Action plan can be found here:

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