Transport managers have been urged to challenge traffic commissioners on issues they believe are not “fair or relevant” in order to simplify their jobs and make the running of their fleets more cost-effective.
The call comes from Kevin Rooney, traffic commissioner for the north east of England, who said a more professional approach to the job could help drive the industry forward as well as reduce costs.
Rooney told Commercial Fleet magazine: “We want fleet managers to take charge of the industry. They are professionals and we want them to be more feisty and challenge traffic commissioners on subjects they don’t think are fair or relevant.”
One of the areas Rooney believes could be challenged is the requirement for six-weekly vehicle checks which O-licence holders have to carry out at present.
He said: “We have set this six-week period as a guide but if you don’t think it is necessary based on the risks your fleet runs – maybe you don’t do very high mileages – then come and tell us. We want you to push back – we will listen to you as we want to help reduce your costs where we can. If you think you can do things differently then don’t be afraid to tell us.”
However, in a ‘carrot and stick’ speech at a Fleet Engineer conference organised by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Rooney warned that traffic commissioners would soon be spending more time trying to remove O-licences from operators who break the rules.
He said: “At present, traffic commissioners are spending too much time chasing one-man-bands and minicab drivers. We are taking steps to deal with these small operators separately and that will leave us more time to chase the firms with 30-40 drivers who fiddle their tachos and cheat their bosses. We will now be concentrating on operators who pose the greatest risk to road safety.”
Rooney also had a warning for operators whose drivers use mobile phones while on the move.
At present, drivers caught using hand-held devices while driving face a £100 fine and three points on their driving licences. However, in the case of HGVs, the firm which employs the offending driver will also be sent a letter from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) warning it about its future conduct.
“In the event of a second offence, the matter could be referred to the traffic commissioners and this could lead to the suspension of the firm’s O-licence,” Rooney said.