Immediate prohibitions at roadside for hours offences
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gm by Miles Brignall
Drivers found to have broken the hours limits at roadside checks face immediate prohibitions.
From the start of February, Vehicle Inspectorate staff will be able to stop outof-hours UK drivers from continuing their Journeys; until now only foreign drivers have faced immediate prohibitions for hours offences.
The VI has been empowered to issue these prohibitions by an amendment to the Transport Bill which was rushed through Parliament before Christmas. While the bill will not authorise VI staff to start impounding unlicensed trucks until June, they will be able to take action against drivers almost immediately.
Any driver who is found not to have taken his 46-minute break will be kept at the roadside until he has done so. A driver who is found to have committed more serious offences will also have to take the required break, but he will be moved to a service area or truck park under police escort.
For example a driver who fails to take his daily rest period will be held up for 11 hours— and a driver who misses his weekly rest period will be forced to park up for 24 hours. The VI has confirmed that if an operator sends a replacement driver who can prove he is inside his hours, the prohibition on the vehicle will be lifted.
"At the start of its introduction only the most serious offenders will be held," says VI traffic enforcement manager Kevin Rooney. "Because we've had a relatively short period to introduce this, we will be doing it in stages, Where there is a road-safety issue we will obviously take action, but if a driver has made a minor and genuine mistake
he may well just be cautioned."
However, from June, the new rules will be applied more strictly. The VI is already working on the practicalities of handling the confiscation of unlicensed trucks; it will be upgrading its roadside computers to take its new powers into account. Between February and June all driver notices will have to written out by hand.
The crackdown on hours will be welcomed by some drivers. Until now, all hours infringements unearthed at the roadside have led to cautions and possible prosecution. Drivers who have missed their 45minute break will probably be happier being forced to take the break instead of being prosecuted.