Transport solicitors Backhouse Jones held its final webinar of the year last week, offering those in the wider transport industry a look back over the key legal issues of 2019.
Bridge strikes were once again covered – as in the previous webinar – with Jonathon Backhouse explaining: “Unlike issues with AdBlue, which was a flash in the pan and has more or less gone, bridge strikes are still continuing at much the same rate – approximately five a day – despite various measures to try and stop them.”
He recommended operators look at Network Rail’s documents covering the issue, accessible via its website.
Jonathon emphasised that drivers need to be trained on the heights of new vehicles – they can’t be expected to just know, even if they’re experienced drivers.
Solicitor Laura Smith added: “Some of our clients would have a very clear view that it would be a cut and dry case that the driver should have known better. But if you could be looking at a dismissal case for careless driving, if they have valid mitigation (if they haven’t been trained or we couldn’t prove they had) that would make dismissal difficult.”
The webinar also covered vehicle maintenance, drawing attention to brake testing and driver walkaround checks. All paperwork needs to be completed, stressed Jonathon; descriptions need to be clear and easy to read, and reports have to be signed and dated correctly.
“Driver defect reporting is still the most common failure in terms of maintenance,” he added. “You’ve got to get that cultural message into your drivers that they’re like an airline pilot doing pre-flight checks – you wouldn’t want to get on a plane where the pilot hadn’t completed those, would you?”