W e all live in a world where we're bombarded by
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hundreds of messages every clay. Some are tangible, others subliminal. But whether we receive them consciously or subconsciously they're all stored for future reference. The media attention arising from the Fewston Transport licence revocation could hardly have been greater. But what exactly is the message and how many hauliers have am it? Presumably, it's that a road haulier who skimps on maintenance, putting the public safety at risk, doesn't deserve to hold an Operator's Licence. But is that really the answer? Or was it that the death of six people at Sowerby Bridge as a result of Fewston's "cavalier disregard of road safety" couldn't be considered in isolation and that the emotional force of public opinion is invariably unstoppable? And public opinion was clearly against Fewston. Keith Waterworth's decision to revoke the company's licence was no doubt right from the point of view of sending out a strong message to hauliers who might be tempted to treat vehicle maintenance as an afterthought. According to the FTA it was "a clear warning to the whole industry". But is the industry listening? And if Fewston's tipper had not crashed on that fateful day would the company still be holding an 0licence today? If that vehicle had been stopped outside Sowerby Bridge what would have been the consequences then? A prohibition followed by a public inquiry perhaps? And then what? Revocation—or simply a warning for the future? an we all be certain that the activities of similar companies to Fewston will be caught in time? Or will their shortcomings only come to light when there's a maior accident? And here's the rub. There are probably dozens of trucks in the same mechanical condition as Fewston's ill-fated tipper running on our roads as you read this. By the grace of God they have not caused an accident—yet. If Waterworth's message is to mean anything it must be followed up by tough action based on what might happen. If the LAs really want to get tough on operators who are slipshod or cavalier on maintenance then let's have no more "second chances". About the only clear message coming out of the Fewston case is that maintaining a truck properly is literally a matter life or death.