Up and coming law with the FTA
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DVLA fee proposals: The DVLA is considering revising fee structures to cover the costs of changes. including the 10-yearly renewal of photocard licences, the removal of the paper counterpart and the redevelopment of vehicle systems and processes.
EU drivers' hours rules: The EC has published proposals to update and amend the existing drivers' hours rules (3820/85). These proposals are still subject to the discussion and decision process in Europe. Final decisions are expected to be published in the spring of 2006 with an implementation date in spring 2007.
Driver training: EU Driver Training Directive. The European Commission has published a directive requiring initial and periodic training of professional goods and passenger vehicle drivers.
The Level 2 training covers fuel economy, drivers' hours and customer service; the qualification is referred to as a Certificate of Professional Competence. Member states must lay down laws for its introduction no later than 10 September 2006 with initial training starting by September 2009 (CM 27 October).
Road Safety Bill: This includes the introduction of: graduated fixed penalties for speeding; fixed penalties and a deposit scheme for offences, such as overloading; tougher penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving; new powers to seize and dispose of uninsured vehicles: new penalties to deal with dangerous and had drivers; the piloting of motorway rest areas; better enforcement of drivers' hours rules; and a new offence of being the registered keeper of an uninsured vehicle.
Third Driver Licence Directive: The EC is discussing revisions to European law as follows: generalising the photocard licence and allowing the introduction of a microchip; introducing a limited administrative validity of driving licences; harmonising the frequency of medical checks; ending driver licence tourism' by introducing a pan-European application process; introducing progressive access to the most powerful motorcycles, trucks and buses; removing the flexibility of towing larger trailers on a car licence; and introducing minimum requirements for the initial qualification and training of driving examiners (CM 14 July).
Digital tachographs: European regulations require the fitment of digital tachographs to all new vehicles from 5 August 2004. The EC issued a moratorium on enforcement until August 2005, followed by a "transitional period.. until the end of 2005, during which time new vehicles fitted with analogue tachographs can still be registered in the EU. An EU agreement to further delay the introduction is possible. But the UK government will not enforce the mandatory fitment of digital tachographs until there is a proven supply of suitable equipment (CM 20 October).
Red diesel: HM Revenue and Customs has issued a consultation document to make changes to the list of vehicles permitted to use rebated fuel. This is designed to update and clarify definitions of excepted vehicles.
Corporate manslaughter: The government has issued a draft bill introducing an offence holding organisations to account for gross failings by their senior management that have fatal consequences. The aim of the proposals is to tackle the difficulty with the current law, which contains the need to find a -directing mind" of a company personally guilty of gross negligence. This will be in addition to other forms of accountability — such as prosecutions under health and safety legislation. It would apply to government departments and other Crown bodies, lifting their immunity from prosecution for the first time (CM 22 September).
Highways Agency powers to remove vehicles: Legislation is expected during 2006 to allow Highways Agency traffic officers to remove or arrange removal of abandoned or brokendown vehicles from motorways and trunk roads in England, providing similar powers to those of the police.
Mirrors: The Department for Transport has issued a consultation document on the implementation of EU Directives which require additional blind-spot mirrors to be fitted to new goods vehicles and cars first used on or after 26 January 2007 (CM 13 October).