Operators and transport managers who don’t give their full attention to compliance responsibilities are at risk of losing their repute – because nothing is more pressing than the need to ensure vehicles are operated legally and safely.
The warning, from West Midlands Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton, comes after he disqualified a director and a transport manager for three years – ruling their excuses for failing to address safety concerns were “unacceptable”.
James Ginelly and Keith Slinn told the Traffic Commissioner that all of their energy had been focused on keeping the company, JAG Distribution Ltd, afloat.
As a result, they had neglected to check a driver’s licence – leading to a vehicle being driven without the correct entitlement – or monitor drivers’ hours properly – leading to a driver prosecuted in 2014 committing further 4.5 hour offences.
During a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) roadside check on 24 August, one of the company’s vehicles was stopped.
A traffic examiner found the driver was not wearing a seatbelt, had not secured the vehicle’s load properly, was not able to show evidence of holding the driver CPC, had committed numerous and serious breaches of the 4.5 hours rule and had driven without a card inserted into the tachograph unit – alongside driver licence offence (his entitlement had expired 12 months prior to the encounter).
A follow up investigation revealed:
- the operator had never downloaded the vehicles’ tachograph units
- there were no driver infringement reports
- the operator had failed to conduct regular, effective checks of driver entitlement
- a vehicle had been used without an MOT for three months
- an unauthorised operating centre, in Nuneaton, was in use
At a public inquiry on 05 December, the company director and his transport manager said they had taken a mechanic’s word about the vehicle found to be without an MOT, admitting they had not checked if there was a certificate confirming a valid test. They had not applied for the new operating centre as it was known the business would be entering liquidation.
Mr Denton also found, from maintenance records produced to the inquiry, that safety inspection sheets failed to record tyre tread depths and brake test. The transport manager admitted he did not know what kind of brake test, if any, the maintainer was carrying out.
Ruling that the company lacked financial standing and had lost professional competence, the Traffic Commissioner said:
“For the avoidance of doubt, even if the company had not entered liquidation, the serious nature of the other findings and the almost complete lack of positive factors are such as would have caused me not to accord any period of grace in which to re-establish financial standing or nominate a new transport manager.”
He added that company director James Ginelly deserved to be disqualified and that the removal of transport manager Keith Slinn’s repute was “appropriate and proportionate”.