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The Licensing of Steam-wagon Steersmen.

3rd March 1925, Page 1
3rd March 1925
Page 1
Page 2
Page 1, 3rd March 1925 — The Licensing of Steam-wagon Steersmen.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

PROMINENOE has once more been given to the question as to whether or not a steersman on a steam wagon must,be licensed as a driver by the refusal of the magistrates at Ashby-de-Ia-Zouch to convict a steersman who was summoned for driving a motor vehicle without being licensed.

Contrary to the statements made in some quarters, the point which is raised is not by any means a new one, nor one upon which magistrates have not previously adjudicated: It is, however, one upon which there is no authentic decision, as up to the present no one has thought it worth while to incur the ex-• pense of appealing against a conviction, or dismissal, by having a case stated for the opinion of the Divisional Court. In the cases which have been dealt with in various police courts throughout the country, there has been no unanimity of opinion. In some it has been,held that a licence is required, whilst in others the contrary view has been laid down. The Leicestershire Justices, in dismissing the summons in the recent case, expressed their readiness to state a case for the consideration of the High Court.

The law on the point is extremely simple. It is the application which is difficult. The Motor Car Act (1903) requires that every person who deives a motorcar shall be licensed. That is all. The question which arises is whether a steersman is a driver. The Act and the Regulations are silent as to steersmen ; they deal only with drivers.

It must be confessed that it does appear to be rather late in the day for the Ministry of Transport to be concerned with obtaining a decision of the High Court on a point which has remained unsolved for twenty years,particularly as the question would have been solved to their satisfaction before now if they had been more adept in pushing forward a Bill to give effect to the recommendatiotis contained in the Second Interim Report of *the Departmental Committee which were made public so long ago as March, 1922, and contained a recommendation that all steersmen should be required to be licensed.

The best advice which can be given (and it is advice which we have given and reheated over and over again) to owners who are in doubt pending a. decision of the Divisional Court is to take out licences for their steersman if they want to be on the safe side, in view of the fact that, in the City of London and some provincial courts, it is invariably held that a licence is required. WE ARE very glad to find that the small haulier is standing up for himself in the matter of the condition of his vehicle, and is not prepared to take lying down the criticism eontained in the article _ by an Inspector of Transport which appeared in the issue of The Commercial Motor for February :3rd. We do know that the writer of that article was sincere. He had met with so many glaring examples of obvious neglect that he felt bound to speak -up, and we must say that we agreed that there was sufficient ground for ventilating a subject which we think is vital to the credit and well-being of road transport. It is, however, never wise, nor is it useful, to argue from the general to the particular. If one could pick out andpoint to a dozen ill-kept vehicles belonging to one-vehicle men, one could equally as quickly point to a dozen which are well-kept, and we are quite prepared to admit that it is not only the onevehicle man who has the tendency to let things go and to take chances. Whilst we shall welcome a ' full discussion and a free ventilation of the subject, we do ask our readers not to attempt to fit on the cap not intended for them. At the same time, We would like to hear the arguments of the man who may feel that he is justly included in the attack made by our contributor. He can write in full confidence that his name and address do not go beyond the editorial desk. But we fear he will be the silent listener in this discussion I

The question is: What is the best way to bring about a reform in vehicle maintenance? Should it be effected by the establishment of a system of official inspection before licensing? We know that this course is actually being considered. Or would it be possible to make use of the service system and organization which so many of the leading manufacturers have laid down? Jr there are many commercial motors unfit for the road, it must be admitted that the sooner the matter is taken in hand the better for mechanical road transport and the community as a whole.

IT HAS been suggested to us by a number of prominent transport engineers that we should devote further space in this journal to the interclfange of views, problems and answers concerning road transport matters, and we believe that the suggestion is of sufficient value to our readers to justify such a procedure. We are, therefore, prepared to give every possible assistance in the matter, and we will welcome for publication suitable opinions, requests for information and answers thereto, which may be forwarded by those of our readers who are intimately conceined with the running of road transport. Such an exchange of the views of practical men in the transport industry should certainly be of extreme value to all. At present there is far too much of what may. be termed "isolation." Each transport manager 3s usually a law unto himself, and it may well be that he can attain greater efficiency in his fleet and discover better methods as the result of the advice of those holding similar positions, expressed through the medium of thit journal and consequently circulated to every part of the Empire and many foreign countries. There are hundreds of knotty problems which prove thorns in the side of the average transport manager, but which may have been solved in individual cases' and there is no doubt that the ventilation of such problems and their solutions would be to the ultimate good of all concerned.

We do not refer so much to purely mechanical matters, such as are found in the ordinary maintenance of commercial vehicle chassis, but to such points as depreciation, tyre mileage, the employment of pneumatics, whether it be advisable or not to give bonuses to drivers, means for the promotion of safety, how, inspection can hest be carried out, the relegation of duties as between the transport manager and his subordinates, garage routine and, in fact, the thousand-and-one matters,' large and small, which go to make up the work of the transport engineer.

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