Tap into digital tacho compliance, warns traffic commissioner07 April 2016

Operators are being warned to ensure they download digital tachograph records, after two recent breaches resulted in licences being revoked or suspended.

Nick Denton, traffic commissioner for London and the South East, says parts of the haulage industry need a culture change in respect of digital tacho records.

His comments come after he suspended a London council’s licence and revoked another operator’s authority for failing do so – despite both being warned about the requirements.

The London Borough of Croydon’s transport department had failed to carry out any downloads from vehicle tachograph units over a 10-month period – despite giving assurances at a previous inquiry, in 2014, that it would do so.

Suspending the operator’s licence for 72 hours, Denton said the council’s lapse was particularly disappointing, despite its claims of an IT hiccup: “No one in the Council’s IT department or otherwise in a senior position appears to have realised the importance of effecting downloads from the vehicle units until quite late on. The transport manager did not have effective line management over drivers.”

During a separate inquiry, Denton heard that Macknade Fine Foods, of Faversham, had failed to download data from the vehicle’s tachograph unit since purchasing it in 2011.

The issues were identified when one of the drivers was stopped in December 2015. Despite the matter being brought to the firm’s attention, by the time of the public inquiry in March 2016, the operator had only purchased the download equipment and had still not actually performed any downloads.

The driver stopped at the roadside had committed serious daily and weekly rest offences and appeared to be continuing to do so. He also drove for a period without having completed the five training modules necessary for driver CPC.

Denton said: “This is an operator who has had little appreciation of the regulatory environments which go with HGV operation and who has made insufficient efforts to improve after the police stop in December 2015.”

He made an order to revoke the licence from 23 May 2016 – the reasons for the delay include a change of entity from a partnership to a limited company.

Addressing the failures of both operators, Denton said: “I am concerned about the culture of downloading digital data across the industry and these two cases illustrate the problem most acutely.”

He added: “I would advise operators running digital vehicles to review their downloading practices now to ensure that downloads are carried out within the legal time limits, and do the job which they are designed to do: identify drivers who exceed the driving limits and take action to make sure that they don’t do it again.”

Laura Cork

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