Cap of 28 vehicles put in place until TC is happy improvements are being sustained over time
Buzzlines Travel has been prevented from expanding after Traffic Commissioner for London and the South East Nick Denton told directors they needed to focus their energy on preventing Drivers’ Hours offences.
The TC reduced from 35 to 28 the number of vehicles the Hythebased firm is allowed to operate, after hearing the company’s drivers had:
- made false records of their driving duty;
- failed to make records of their duty;
- failed to take sufficient daily rests; and
- failed to take the necessary breaks.
13 drivers were convicted at Margate Magistrates’ Court in May 2012.
Buzzlines was fined £44,000 for failing to produce some records of the hours its drivers had driven. A further 34 offences were taken into consideration during the prosecution.
In addition, a director of the firm, Nigel Busbridge, was personally fined £9,000 for his neglect in the role.
VOSA carried out an investigation in 2010 looking at the activities of the firm’s drivers.
After examining tachographs a VOSA Traffic Examiner concluded the operator’s system for managing Drivers’ Hours was not rigorous enough.
The company had identified employees who committed infringements, he noted, but did not formally follow this up with them.
The operator’s representative said the percentage of offending was at 7-8% of all the records checked by VOSA.
His client accepted there had been poor management of the driver conduct and poor planning.
Busbridge told the TC he had delegated his duties as Transport Manager to two individuals, without really checking they were doing their jobs properly. He had not realised there was a problem until spring 2010.
He had subsequently resigned from the post of Transport Manager in January 2012 and appointed Scott Morley, a qualified Transport Manager from the Royal Logistics Corps, to bring about improvements.
This had led to a reduction in offences, with drivers now given additional training and, where necessary, disciplinary action being taken.
In addition, external audits were carried out in May 2012 and March 2013, which concluded the company’s system for monitoring Drivers’ Hours was now fully fit-for-purpose.
Denton also noted evidence from six of the firm’s drivers. Some suggested it had been difficult to complete work schedules within the Drivers’ Hours rules when the offending occurred.
All agreed Morley had brought much-needed discipline and rigour to the process of ensuring drivers stayed within legal driving and working time limits.
Making an order to reduce the number of vehicles the company can operate from 35 to 28 indefinitely, the TC said: “[There were] many instances of drivers failing by a wide margin to take sufficient breaks or rest, with the safety of passengers and other road users therefore put at risk.”
He was reasonably confident the operator could be trusted to maintain the improvements put into place.
Reducing the O-licence authorisation to 28 vehicles, he added, would cap the company’s operations at roughly their current level and prevent it from expanding further until he was sure that the improvements in the firm’s supervision of its Drivers’ Hours were being sustained over time.
“I want to send a strong signal of disapproval that the company’s management allowed oversight to drift throughout much of 2010,” he said.
Former Transport Manager Nigel Busbridge had not lost his repute as a result of the VOSA investigation but it had been left in a “battered condition”, Denton concluded.