30 06 How drivers’ relationships with digital tachograph card enforcement needs to change
This January and February, a case you may have already heard of went to a full hearing before the Traffic Commissioner (TC). In 2015, a driver named Paul Green, working for Telford-based A1 Scaffolding, was detained for a roadside spot check by a DVSA examiner. When Mr Green was asked to produce his digital tachograph card in accordance with this check, he responded with foul language and hostility.
The gist of the matter seems to be that, whilst Mr Green did possess a digital tachograph card as required by law, he was not carrying it when driving as the trucks the company used all still bore manual tachographs, as is legal for older model vehicles. Mr Green was of course in the wrong, as the card also serves as identification ad proof of certification, so it must be carried even when one is driving a vehicle with a manual tachograph.
However, this is not a simple story of a salty workman and a relatively minor infraction. My Green held his ground, and accused the DVSA examiner of making up this requirement in order to ‘earn more money’. When the examiner contacted the driver’s employer, A1 Scaffolding (Shropshire), one of its directors also behaved quite aggressively towards the examiner.
Eventually Mr Green’s employer was summoned to the scene with Mr Green’s digital tachograph card. Whilst the examiner noted several other infractions (including three people occupying a 2-seat cab, an insecure load and issues with the vehicle’s brakes), no action was taken on these issues.
In fact, Mr Green made a complaint to the police about the examiner’s conduct, which led to the Traffic Commission hearing the matter earlier this year.
What the TC determined
Traffic Commissioner Nick Jones determined that Mr Green’s behaviour, especially in mounting an unfounded complaint for serious misconduct against the examiner in question, amounted to harassment and unjustified abuse. Moreover, the TC found that A1 Scaffolding (Shropshire) had condoned or encouraged Mr Green’s complaint, and had acted ‘irresponsibly’ throughout the events. In Mr Jones’ words:
“It is clear that the operator condoned and encouraged the action of his driver. Moreover it was the culture of non-compliance and attitude to authority set by the operator that contributed to Paul Green’s demeanour,”
He also found that A1 Scaffolding had intentionally misled investigators into the incident.
What happened to Mr Green and A1 Scaffolding as a result?
A1 Scaffolding (Shropshire) had its operator’s license curtailed form 5 vehicles to 2 for three months. Of course, this represents a substantial loss of business and difficulty for the organisation. Mr Green, the driver, had his professional driving license suspended entirely for 2 months.
What is the take-away from all this?
TC Jones tells us that drivers and especially their employers need to build a culture of respect for public employees, especially those tasked with enforcing health and safety regulations like the ones requiring digital tachograph cards to be borne whilst driving professionally. It is the responsibility of owners and directors of these companies to set a good example for their employees when dealing with enforcement officers, as that is the foundation stone for developing such a culture.