A £3 million Treasury windfall, achieved by collecting fines from historical drivers' hours offences, should be invested into the stricter enforcement of road safety standards, according to Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The call comes after the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced an increase of penalty revenues of greater than 700% after the first year of new enforcement powers had come into force.
James Firth, head of road freight regulation policy at the FTA, said: “This £3m windfall must not disappear into a Treasury black hole; instead, it should be invested immediately into the stricter enforcement of road safety standards, particularly for van drivers and non-GB operators, where road safety standards are much lower.
“This initiative has handed the Chancellor a gift of a magnitude that no one expected and which could make a significant impact to improve the overall safety of the UK’s roads.”
While the DVSA’s enforcement of commercial vehicles is almost exclusively funded by regular fees, paid for by operators when they get their vehicles tested, all fines go back to the Treasury, not the agency. “FTA hopes the Treasury will unlock this revenue to provide much-needed road safety funding,” continued Firth.
“The enforcement of van safety standards has reduced by half in the last five years; enforcement of non-GB van operators is marginal. FTA and its members, particularly those operating vans, strive for high levels of compliance with the law and we want to see a much stronger enforcement effort against those who hold a disregard for road safety.”
Vans are now a ubiquitous sight on the UK’s roads, and provide a vital link in the nation’s supply chain – but it is important their operations are held to a similar enforcement effort as applied to other vehicles, says FTA.
Firth concluded: “Investing this windfall in improved enforcement capabilities would reassure reputable road users, and ensure that the UK’s complex supply chain can continue to operate to maximum efficiency, without the threat of rogue or unscrupulous operators.”
From March 5, 2018, the DVSA enforcement staff have been able to issue fines of as much as £300 each for up to five drivers’ hours offences committed in the previous 28 days. DVSA’s powers were changed to allow it to take tougher action against all drivers exceeding their hours.
The enforcement rates of van mechanical safety standards has fallen from 20,520 in 2014 to 9,512 in 2017; enforcement against non-GB vans are measured in the hundreds annually.
In comparison, 26,671 mechanical enforcement checks and 28,791 drivers hours checks of HGVs took place in 2017.