A Walsall HGV driver has been disqualified from driving professionally for a year after he tried to hide his abuse of safety rules, while his employer has had its operating licence revoked.
Stuart Scrivens, of Remington Road, was found to have driven excessive hours on two occasions in the same week, while working for Walsall based Clentons (Removals).
Industry regulator Kevin Rooney concluded it was highly likely Scrivens would have suffered from fatigue after driving for 18 hours out of 24 on one occasion and 15 hours out of 19 on another.
Meanwhile Clentons, his employer, which ran vehicles in a “shocking” condition and had an “appalling” MOT record has lost its operating licence.
Clentons (Removals) Ltd, which has held a goods vehicle operator’s licence for 20 years, also had no system in place to check that its drivers were working within road safety rules.
Drivers’ hours and tachograph rules mean that professional drivers must take specific breaks and rest while they are driving – as well as in between their duties. The legislation also sets maximum periods of driving.
The decision to revoke Scrivens’ professional licence and disqualify him until 12 February 2017 comes after a driver conduct hearing last month in Birmingham.
Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney heard Scrivens had been stopped by government inspectors at the UK Control Zone in Coquelles on 23 April 2015.
An examination of the vehicle and driving records suggested that Brett Perry had been driving the vehicle before Scrivens, starting at 19:17 the previous day. The records showed Scrivens inserted his driver card at 01:14 on 23 April.
However, after further questioning, Scrivens accepted he had actually used the driver card issued to Brett Perry – meaning that Perry had not been present in the vehicle or carried out the driving recorded on that card.
Scrivens drove using Perry’s card for a total of eight hours and 46 minutes. By doing so, he created a false record of his duties. He then inserted his own driver card and drove for a further six hours and 16 minutes, before being stopped by examiners from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
Another driver, Andrew Perry, continued to commit offences through July, August, September and October 2015, despite the fact he had already been interviewed for earlier abuses.
Rooney also heard evidence about the roadworthiness of the company’s vehicles. Routine vehicle safety inspections were not carried out on regular occasions and the firm’s MOT record was considered “appalling”.
At the conduct hearing in Birmingham, Scrivens told the Traffic Commissioner he had not intended to drive during 2015 but had been asked to help out on the trip to France as a favour. He said that Perry’s driver card was already in the vehicle and things had gone wrong during the week with loading vehicles.
He had to be home in time to attend a funeral and this was his sole motivation for using Perry’s card. He did not commit the offences to work extra hours or get more money.
The Traffic Commissioner said Scrivens had used another driver’s card to extend his daily driving periods by a “very considerable amount”.
He added: “Scrivens has clearly demonstrated that he is not today a safe person to be the driver of a heavy goods vehicle.
“This is not a matter of a driver not knowing the rules; quite the contrary - the purpose of Scrivens’ offending was to hide his abuse of the rules.”
The Traffic Commissioner also reassured the wider industry that regulators will not tolerate operators and drivers who undercut compliant hauliers by breaking the rules.
He added that the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s recently revised Statutory Document on driver conduct makes clear that fraudulent activity cannot be permitted. He also reminded drivers that use of a second driver card will be treated in the same way the offence of using a device to interfere with the recording equipment, the starting point for which is revocation and a 12 month disqualification from professional driving.
The Traffic Commissioner described one vehicle encounter on November 4 in Gloucester as “quite shocking”. He said the state of the vehicle clearly identified fundamental failures in the firm’s maintenance systems.
Additionally, there was no driver defect reporting procedure in place and Brett Perry was not aware of the requirement to hold a driver certificate of professional competence.
The Traffic Commissioner said it was “unforgivable” that a transport manager, who is employed to provide professional competence to a licence, was unaware of the driver CPC requirement.
Perry was disqualified from acting as a transport manager, until he has passes the transport manager CPC qualification again.
He also received a warning against his professional driving licence for the offence of driving without the driver CPC qualification.