Magnet manipulation of tachograph a ‘blatant disregard for the regulatory system’

The North West Traffic Commissioner, Simon Evans, has used his first case as the region’s new regulator to reassure compliant operators and drivers that the most severe action will be considered against those who are caught using magnets to manipulate and conceal driving duties.

Evans, who took up his post as North West Traffic Commissioner on June 1, disqualified the director of a haulage firm for two years after he admitted using a magnet to conceal driving carried out during a daily rest period.

Sebastian Blizniak said he had bought the magnet for the express purpose of falsifying his driving hours.

“The conduct complained of is patently unacceptable,” said Evans in a written decision issued after a public inquiry.

“The use of the magnet to conceal conduct undermines the rules designed to prevent driver fatigue, promote road safety and ensure fair competition in the industry.

“It is the case that the industry would be scandalised, if in the circumstances outlined, an operator were able to retain repute in such a case”.

The Traffic Commissioner revoked the operator’s licence held by S B Trans and disqualified Blizniak from professional driving for 12 months, alongside the two year operating licence disqualification. The orders all take effect from 23:59 on June 23, 2017.

DVSA examiners reported Blizniak for a single instance of using the magnet on November 15, 2016. Analysis of the records showed the driver card was ejected from the unit at 17:58 after 10 hours and one minute of accumulated driving.

The records then appeared to show a qualifying rest period of 10 hours and 57 minutes, until the re-insertion of the driver card at 05:02 on November 16, 2016.

There was no driving mode data or speed trace recorded on November 15, after the ejection of the driver card but data obtained from the vehicle engine management system showed the vehicle to be moving.

Blizniak was subsequently convicted for knowingly making a false record, taking insufficient rest within a 24-hour period and exceeding the 10-hour daily driving limit. He was fined in excess of £1,000 for the offences.

In evidence to the public inquiry, Blizniak told the Traffic Commissioner he used the magnet from Corley Services, near Birmingham and removed it near Middlewich in Cheshire. He had decided to falsify the record in order to save time for the next day.

Evans concluded that the single matter was so serious on its own as to justify the decisions that he had reached.

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