The owner of a pallet firm will been disqualified from running vehicles and lose his transport licence later this month, after Scotland's Traffic Commissioner concluded he had been "self-serving" and showed continued ignorance at a public inquiry.
Peter Henderson, trading as City Pallets, appeared before industry regulator Joan Aitken following Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) investigations into his transport operation.
These revealed Henderson had just over 17,00kms of missing mileage from records and committed numerous drivers' hours offences, including for weekly rest, insufficient daily rest and exceeding daily driving time - the rules are designed to prevent drivers from working whilst tired.
Furthermore, it showed that he had failed to record breaks, meaning it was difficult for DVSA officers to identify whether he was taking sufficient breaks, operated an overloaded vehicle on March 20, 2017 in Perth, and drove without a digital card - which he is legally required to use to record driving and other work - for 14 days while waiting for a replacement. He had failed to make manual records, as required by law, while waiting for the replacement card.
In addition, he did not have a company card to download information from the vehicle and had poor maintenance standards, given vehicles failed MOTs on multiple items.
In evidence to the Traffic Commissioner over two hearings, Henderson said he had no explanation for the missing records and accepted that he had difficulties with his tachographs. He had thought he could drive for 40 miles every day without a tachograph.
Despite being interviewed twice by a DVSA traffic examiner, Henderson said he had not realised how serious the situation was. He told the Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken that suspension of his licence would shut the business as there was a lot of competition.
In a written decision issued after the inquiry, Aitken said: "It is not for me to save his business or his licence. I cannot allow him continuing 'catch up' when the rules are there to keep us all safe and to have a level playing field. Why should he get this pallet work? Why shouldn't it go to other operators who know and obey the drivers' hours rules and have their breaks and rest and get their vehicles through the annual test?
"I do think he has been self-serving and has rested in self-serving ignorance rather than checking his understandings. By not having true records he has brought suspicions of it being 'fiddle'. I think there is a fair chance it has suited him not to produce or keep all of his charts.”
The operator's licence held by Henderson will be revoked with effect from 11:59pm on August 11, 2017. Henderson will also be disqualified from the same date, for four months.