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Penalty points plan Dr overloads

5th November 1992
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Page 6, 5th November 1992 — Penalty points plan Dr overloads
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

by Alan Millar

• Hauliers who persistently overload could see their trucks banned from the roads under a new penalty points system proposed by the Magistrates Association.

The association has called on Roads and Traffic Minister Kenneth Carlisle to look at ways of strengthening enforcement policy and legal sanctions.

The idea comes from David Buckle, a former district officer with the Transport & General Workers Union and now a magistrate and Labour councillor. The Magistrates Association has adopted his plan to extend the driving licence penalty points system to 0-licences.

Buckle says the standard national fine of £400 for overloading is no deterrent to unscrupulous operators who can cut their operating costs by up to £25,000 a year by overloading their vehicles. "Compared with that, a £400 fine is a paltry amount," he says.

He proposes that penalty points should be awarded against offending vehicles leading to an automatic prohibition.

Operators would be able to make a plea of due diligence if they could prove that the overloading was the fault of a driver or customer, such as a container shipper, despite the operator's best endeavours. But a prohibition record would also put 0-licences at risk.

"I would hope that Parliamentary draftsmen could dream up a method of banning people from operating a vehicle for five or 10 years," says Buckle. Commenting on the pro posals, transport lawyer John Backhouse says: "Overloading, in my view, should be dealt with directly by Licensing Authorities rather than by lay magistrates," because LAs would than be kept up to date with operators' overloading convictions, rather than relying on operators to notify the LA. And he says the penalties should apply to the driver and employer, not to the vehicle which could change hands regularly.

Backhouse warns that the industry should make sure its views are taken into consideration before there is a change in the penalty system.

The idea of penalising the vehicle is also likely to be resisted by the motor trade. Charles Sheffield, of ADT's Measham auction centre, says: "It sounds crackers to me. Who wants to buy a vehicle with penalty points against it? 0 Transport lawyer Gary Hodgson is advising hauliers who face harsher penalties under the fines system introduced by magistrates courts in October to consider appealing against them.

One of the first to suffer under the new system is Farnhambased driver Wayne Lee. He was fined £1,750 by Salisbury magistrates last week for two overloading offences.

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