A driver has been suspended from professional driving by a Deputy Traffic Commissioner after he was caught using his mobile phone on two separate occasions – one just days after new penalties had been introduced for the offence.
Martin Burnell, 46, of Tyzack Road, High Wycombe, had his professional LGV driving licence suspended for 12 weeks, following a conduct hearing before Marica Davis, the Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the East of England.
The industry regulator warned Burnell that the pattern of offending could not continue.
Giving evidence to the Deputy Commissioner, Burnell said he could offer no real explanation for the offending and added he no longer answered the phone whilst driving, having learnt his lesson.
He explained that for the second offence, on March 2, 2017, he had a Bluetooth kit but was temporarily using a phone which did not pair with the Bluetooth device.
He answered the phone just to tell the caller he would return the call. Burnell said that as a business owner, it was obviously his livelihood and he needed the phone for his job.
However, the Deputy Commissioner strongly challenged his justification. “It’s not obvious to me at all,” she said. “Your livelihood depends on having a licence. Even if it was an emergency you couldn’t deal with it whilst behind the wheel of a vehicle.
“What you should have done was pull over, when it was safe to do so, turn the ignition off and then say ‘I missed the call, how can I help you?’”.
Taking into account the absence of any other adverse driving history and the lack of further offences, Davis concluded that the minimum period of suspension for two mobile phone offences in a commercial vehicle – 12 weeks – should be applied.
His LGV licence was suspended with immediate effect on the day of the hearing (July 3, 2017) at the Office of the Traffic Commissioner in Cambridge.
The Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain has issued statutory guidance and directions on vocational driver conduct.
The document explains the standards which professional drivers are expected to meet, as well as the starting points that commissioners use when considering whether to take against a driver’s vocational licence.
A leaflet offering further advice to professional drivers and their employers is also available from Department for Transport’s Think campaign.