Transporter Appeal of Vital Importance
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PAYLOADS COULD BE AFFECTED
THE outcome of the appeal now .pending as a result of the cony:cum of Dependable Delivery .Ltd. Of •Folkestone (exclusively reported, in this journal, on June 5) is of vital importance to ear transporter operators all over the country for, if the South Western Metropolitan Magistrate's. ruling is upheld,. it means that some hundreds of these vehicles are illegal when used with the loadcarrying r ramps in the extended position.
• With the fore and aft ramps extended the overall length of the vehicle in question was 37 ft.; which is 7 ft: longer than the length. allowed by Regulation 7(3) of the Motor. Vehicles (Construction and Use). Regulations, 1963, under • which Dependable Delivery was charged,
• The issue, purely and simply, is this: Can the ramps, when extended, be excluded when assessing the overall length of the vehicle? '
Mr, Alistair. Carter, managing director of Carter Engineering Co. (Tarnworth) Ltd.—designer and builder of the veh:cle which was . the subject of the charge— contended before the magistrate that the ramps-shanld.not be included in the legal length of the vehicle. The principle he had worked to was that they were hinged flaps which were quickly detachable by a finger movement. As such they were not necessary ta the normal operation of the vehicle; they simply enabled the vehicle to carry bigger (not more in number). cars.
Mr. Carter, who was treated as an expert witness, quoted the Sixth Schedule of the 1962 Vehicles (Excise) Act, which reads as follows:— ". . . the unladen weight of any mechanically propelled vehicle shall . . • be taken to be the weight of the vehicle inclusive of the body and all parts (the heavier being taken where • alternative bodies or parts are used) which are necessary to or ordinarily used with the vehicle when working on a road, but exclusive of the weight of Water, fuel or accumulators . . and of loose tools and loose equipment" Since the publication of the report of the case, several people—operators, solicitors and. other persons interested—have telephoned me seeking further details about the case. Most of them have asked if the Excise Act, which deals with taxation based on vehicle weights, can be followed when dealing with vehicle lengths.
No doubt this is what the Divisional Court will be asked and it would not be right or proper for me to suggest an answer here. Instead, I merely refer to section 64 of the 1964) Road Traffic Act which is headed "Construction and Use of Vehicles and Equipment ". This gives a list of things to do with the construction and use of vehicles that the Minister can regulate. It includes width, height and length of vehicles, as well as weight.
Section 64(2) states: It shall not be lawful to use on a road a motor vehicle or trailer which does not comply with any such regulations as aforesaid."
Another relevant matter .which may complicate the issue is that the two Acts do not appear to be complementary to each other. Under the Excise Act a tractor and semi-trailer are treated as one single unit. They are treated as two separate vehicles in other Regulations and Acts.
A precisely similar prosecution is now pending before the South Western Magistrate concerning a similar vehicle operated by a well-known haulier of new cars. This is why I stress the importance of the matter. If the appeal is lost, it could mean a considerable reduction in the payloads of these vehicles to bring them within the law.