The extent to which the DVSA deals with offences such as drivers’ hours and tachograph meddling has been questioned in the House of Commons, when an MP asked why prosecutions had fallen.
The figures are startling; back in 2008/09 reported drivers’ hours and tacho offences led to 5,959 prosecutions. By 2013/14 this had dropped to 4,050 and last year the number was 2,861.
It’s not that the industry has become substantially more compliant; Transport Minister Andrew Jones admitted that the number of offences detected has actually increased, by many thousands.
But he said that the main reason for the decrease was a drive to deal with all but the most serious offences by way of a fixed penalty.
This is nothing new. The DVSA has been open about this policy for a number of years. But there are many unanswered questions about how effective this strategy is, whether it is an adequate deterrent for those operators and drivers committing low to medium-level offences and how much of it all is really being driven by significant cuts in the DVSA’s budget.
Also, how much of this enforcement work is being mopped up by the police, who, as we all know, are heavily under-resourced as well?
However, one recent case was deemed serious enough to prosecute and it led to a prison sentence for the operator.
A DVSA fraud investigation found that Stephen Holding had allowed his drivers to commit 79 false driving record offences.
In most cases the drivers were on duty for longer periods than they should have been.
Holding, who ran a haulage business in Telford, was jailed for eight months.
This followed a previous prosecution, in which 10 of his drivers were fined a total of £10,000.
The DVSA described this offence as “rare” – which, perhaps, is fortunate for the under pressure enforcement agency – but its head of fraud and integrity, Andy Rice, says it will “pursue and prosecute anyone who attempts to undermine public safety.”
As long as it’s serious enough.
For more information on Drivers’ Hours and Tachographs please contact the road transport team on 0800 046 3066