Under the hammer: Haulage directors continue to be fined and disqualified for avoidable negligent practice

Jun 1, 2017

To say it’s been a turbulent year for the haulage industry is something of an understatement! With Brexit negotiations placing many haulage firms on high alert, bodies such as the RHA have been heavily involved in observing proposed changes to th elaw, lobbying where necessary.

Further to this uncertainty and upheaval, however, remains a trend that has continued as steadily as it is alarming: negligence.

With firmer laws in place regarding the responsibility placed on the directors of haulage companies, both 2016 and 2017 have seen a slew of penalties and disqualifications levied against those who endanger the safety of their staff, pedestrians, and other drivers through poor standards and disregard for safety compliance.

The battle against non-compliant practices by haulage firms is far from new; Traffic Commissioners were busy indeed towards the end of 2016, helping to ensure appropriate levels of safety across the UK.

Of particular concern is the general trend of avoidable incidents; with modern devices and camera technology rising swiftly to meet the increasingly stringent safety requirements put in place, many directors have found themselves in the unfortunate situation of having licenses revoked and fines enforced where simple investment in modern technology may have avoided such problems.

Director of Hull based caravan firm found to have risked lives to trim costs

March saw a swift and decisive verdict of disqualification given to the director of a manufacturing firm whose director allowed a driver in his employment to abuse road safety rules in the interest of increasing hours worked.

Caught due to discrepancies found in the firm’s organisation listing, where director Michael Holgate was listed as both director and transport manager, the Traffic Commissioner commented that as sole director, Michael was “still responsible for the transport operation” and remained responsible for “the overall company’s financial performance”.

The danger posed to road users by such practice is made worse by the ease at which such an incident may have been avoided; with financial strain leading the director to such a decision, proven methods of improving driver and vehicle performance and compliance through investment in areas such as camera technology may have avoided such an incident from ever being deemed necessary.

Penkridge firm director handed eight-year ban for negligence

The most recent occurrence of such poor practice occurred this month in Penkridge. Director Gavin Bentley of Midland Poling Services was found to have contributed to an incident in which a pedestrian suffered life-altering injuries in a serious crash.

The vehicle involved was found to have been operating under non-compliant levels of maintenance and a swift verdict from the regional Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton was given. Commenting on the poor safety standards, the Commissioner reiterated the need for a “necessary culture of safety” within haulage firms.

With such incidents being exacerbated by poor oversight and monitoring of driver and vehicle behaviour, it stands as a further reminder of the danger posed by the combination of negligent management and subpar maintenance and equipment.

Investing in compliance and performance

It’s clear to see the trend that lies behind these cases. With directors continuing to be caught red-handed, it is usually the case that financial difficulties and profit margins are the sole reason for such reckless behaviour.

It is no secret that the haulage industry is a busy one; directors and their transport managers operate within a fast-paced work environment that demands quick coordination with drivers and frequent multi-tasking to stay competitive.

This behaviour is short-sighted at best. With the modern heavy goods vehicle able to come equipped with advanced camera and driver monitoring technology, compliance is now a necessary pursuit that can bring with it significant savings in claims response, driver training and vehicle maintenance.

Through investing in such equipment many of these recent disqualifications would have never occurred.With the budget and finances freed up by improved performance and higher levels of compliance,the operation of haulage firms could be made less of a ‘white knuckle’ affair.

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