Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Road Haulage Licence Revisions Essential Reading for Freight Drivers and Operators

Transport Manager and Company Responsibilities Clearly Defined
Shipping News Feature
UK – The run up to Christmas is a busy time for just about everybody concerned with the logistics industry so it may well be that many road haulage operators, and freight transport drivers, will not have noticed the slew of revised statutory vehicle operator licensing documents which the Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain’s office released on 14 December 2015. These in fact are essential reading for all concerned with the sector.

The revisions, all of which are accessible here, illustrate how the Traffic Commissioners (TCs) view, and will interpret their role, with regard to every facet of operators and drivers responsibilities. These range from driver and transport manager conduct, to operating centres and good repute, and really should be studied by those in the industry.

Senior Traffic Commissioner Beverly Bell has made it clear that this clarification of the rules is intended to reduce the burden on compliant operators, targeting those who put road safety at risk and achieving more consistent outcomes when dealing with the conduct of professional drivers, something which many in the industry feel needs attention. Beverley Bell observed:

“The changes to the statutory documents are designed to streamline processes, extend delegation to our staff and give better guidance so that decisions can be made more quickly. These changes will help to deliver a more efficient and effective licensing regime for compliant operators.”

Of the fifteen statutory documents published only two do not relate to freight operations, and Ruth Waring, FCILT, and a director of Labyrinth Logistics Consulting which provides its own O Licence self-audit tool, SilkThread ®, points out that drivers in particular must realise that they can no longer use the excuse that they had been following their employer’s instructions in an attempt to avoid their personal responsibilities.

Vocational driver conduct is covered by statutory document number 6, like others in the series applicable as from 1 January 2016. This revised document gives comprehensive guidance on how traffic commissioners will deal with driver conduct cases and includes case studies to provide practical examples of what action can be taken against drivers. The TCs say this will benefit operators who are proactive in training and managing drivers who are found to be offending.

In addition one of the documents, number 3, provides a clear description of the transport manager’s role, outlining what transport managers are expected to do to ensure they stay on the right side of the law, and Ruth Waring points out that this is the first time that the transport manager’s responsibilities within his or her organisation have been specifically defined and could, in theory, open the door to more prosecutions of employees who are shown to not have been discharging their duties in a manner compliant with the guidance laid down in the documentation.

Traffic Commissioner for the East of England, Richard Turfitt, who led the revisions to statutory documents 1 to 5 and 7 to 13 concluded:

“Our strategic objectives set out how we want to modernise the operator licensing regime so that it helps the responsible operator. We also want operators and applicants to be able to help themselves and to improve the level of complete applications. We value the input of industry stakeholders, they recognise that we have looked at areas of the licensing regime, within the constraints of legislation, to make improvements that give us the time, alongside effective procedures, to hold the serious offenders to account. Better regulation can only lead to better compliance.”