Tired lorry drivers face new £300 on-the-spot fine for staying at the wheel in a bid to reduce accidents involving HGVsMon, 25/09/2017
Tiredness kills. Although this is a well-known campaign, unfortunately some drivers still fail to stop and rest at correct intervals, and some may not realise just how long they’ve been behind the wheel.
Rob Hull, The Mail Online, reports:
Lorry drivers are set to face a new wave of on-the-spot fines as part of a government bid to reduce the number of motor accidents involving freight and commercial vehicles with tired drivers at the wheel.
On-the-spot penalties of up to £300 will be issued if a lorry driver has breached their tachograph restrictions - which dictate the number of hours they're allowed to be at the wheel over a 24-hour period - on any day in the last month.
Foreign lorry drivers will be required to pay up the full amount before being allowed to continue on their journey.
The new proposals are being put forward in Parliament in an effort to crackdown on crashes caused by sleep-deprived HGV drivers.
Figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents say that driving while tired may be responsible for one in five of all accidents and up to a quarter of serious and fatal crashes.
Safety charity Think! added that around 40 per cent of all sleep-related incidents involve commercial vehicles, which have a higher chance of causing life-changing injuries and deaths.
In fact, statistics have shown that almost a quarter of injuries caused by accidents involving HGVs are fatal or serious, which is higher than the average of one in eight crashes.
In addition to the devastation caused to families and communities, collisions also cost the economy an estimated £16.3billion a year, and add pressure on the NHS and emergency services.
To reduce these numbers, DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn has announced new plans to check whether lorry, bus and coach drivers have exceeded their designated hours at the wheel over a longer period.
Under current rules, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency can only issue a fixed penalty notice if the HGV driver has exceeded drivers' hours on their tachograph that day.
Those found exceeding drivers' hours on earlier days can still be fined, though the agency would need to take offenders to court - a process that is costly, time-consuming and can result in drivers without a UK address ignoring a summons.
But new powers would allow the DVSA to issue an on-the-spot fine for any breach of drivers' hours on a tachograph in the last 28 days, with a fine of up to £300 for each individual offence.
In that four-week period, a maximum of five breaches would be allowed - costing a maximum of £1,500 - before a driver would be taken to court.
Drivers who don’t live in the UK will have to pay any penalties before continuing on their journey and, if necessary, their vehicle will be immobilised until they’ve done so.
Commenting on the proposals, Llewellyn said: 'DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles.
'These tougher penalties will help us to take stronger action against any drivers or operators who break drivers’ hours rules and will help make our roads safer.
'There’s no excuse for driving while tired. The results of falling asleep at the wheel of a 44 tonne lorry can be devastating to families and communities.
'Any driver breaking these rules is putting other road users at risk and could face losing their licence and livelihood.'
The DVSA currently conducts a network of roadside checks at ports and major motorways and A-roads in the UK.
A spokesperson for the agency said: 'We use intelligence to identify those who may be breaching their drivers' hours or have a history of doing so.'
Each year the DVSA checks a quarter of a million vehicles at 67 sites across the country with around 600 staff checking truckers' vehicles for mechanical issues and tachographs to ensure they're not exceeding their designated hours at the wheel.
Agency vehicle examiners also have the powers to fine up to £300 for mechanical offences identified on a commercial or freight vehicle they have stopped.
There's an allowance of up to a maximum of five offences per examination before the lorry, bus or coach is struck from the road and the driver taken to court.
Highways England‘s Mike Wilson added: 'Safety is our number one priority, and with 70 per cent of all freight using our motorways and major A-roads, our road network is fundamental to goods and services travelling around the country.
'That is why we support this move to help make journeys safer for everyone.'
In addition to these new powers, DVSA enforcement officers will start issuing fines of up to £300 to lorry drivers who take their full, weekly 45-hour rest breaks in their vehicle.
This is off the back of a consultation carried out by the Department for Transport earlier this year looking into fining HGV drivers who park illegally or inappropriately, causing problems for local communities due to noise, nuisance, litter and anti-social behaviour.
According to the DfT, Kent authorities took action against 3,700 lorry drivers for these offences last year.
DVSA traffic examiners will target enforcement in places such as laybys where such behaviour is causing problems and work with their counterparts overseas to tackle foreign operators who do this regularly.
The Government has provided £8.1million for the trials of driverless lorries in the UK, which are expected to take place on major roads by the end of 2018.
This would involve a 'platoon' of three HGVs travelling in convoy, with acceleration, braking and cruising speed controlled by the lead vehicle.
Last month, transport minister Paul Maynard said: ‘We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives. Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to lower emissions and less congestion.
'But first we must make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads.’
The project is part-funded by Highways England and will be carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory.
The AA warned against the trial warning that it could obscure road signs for motorists and block access to slip roads.
In an attempt to keep British roads safer, an on-the-spot fine will be enforced on lorry drivers that have been behind the wheel for too long. This should act as a warning to take regular breaks, which should reduce the number of road accidents involving commercial vehicles.