Calls to get tough on cheating truck drivers
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has called for tougher action to be taken against truck drivers who falsify driving records.
Mandatory jail sentences are needed to deter those who are tempted to cheat – backed by a new determination to detect and prosecute them through the courts, the RHA says.
"Falsifying driving records is planned in advance and is one of the most serious offences in road haulage," says RHA chief executive Geoff Dunning. "Drivers do it because they can carry on driving for far longer than permitted under EU safety rules, which are designed to protect themselves and others.
"They are putting lives at risk and they are undermining the livelihoods of drivers who comply with the law.
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"This crime appears to be becoming more common. This may be due in part to increased economic pressures but the main reason is that ineffective enforcement has increased the temptation to break the law. Deterrence is not nearly strong enough in practice and that is why we are calling for mandatory custodial sentencing and tough, visible enforcement.
"We are calling on ministers at the Department for Transport to take the lead. The DfT's executive agency, VOSA (the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) is the primary enforcement body but it must be adequately directed and resourced; and others need to be involved, including the police, to support VOSA, and the Magistrates Association, along with the equivalent bodies in the devolved regions," he concluded.
*The hours a driver can legally drive is governed by EU Regulation 561/2006, which specifies the maximum daily, weekly and fortnightly driving time allowed. Time spent driving is recorded on a device called a tachograph.
Since the middle of the past decade, new trucks have been fitted with digital tachographs, a new design which creates a digital rather than physical record. This has made falsification more difficult to detect and to prove. Various methods are used to interrupt the signal to the tachograph to stop it temporarily from recording, including the use of a magnet – hence the term "magnet cheats".