The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has been using social networking sites to find and catch out HGV drivers who are flouting the law by breaching drivers’ hours regulations, Commercial Motor magazine reported.
Drivers have been mitigating against more conventional methods used by VOSA by using websites such as ‘VOSA Watch’ to warn each other about VOSA checkpoints or enforcement teams on the roads. Websites such as these have as many as 2,800 registered users and present a challenge to the agency, which has taken the initiative by adopting this new approach.
VOSA officials are fighting back and are using Facebook and a range of web forums to gather intelligence. The approach appears to be bearing fruit already, as a Northern Irish truck driver was recently pulled over by the Commercial Vehicle Unit on the A55 near Bangor after he claimed he had taken a rest stop on his way to North Wales at Redditch.
The driver was known to officials as a regular poster on the VOSA Watch website, and was found to have reported himself passing Ross-on-Wye weighbridge halfway through his rest. He had also informed other drivers the weighbridge was closed.
A VOSA spokesman explained: “The driver admitted destroying a tachograph records sheet and taking insufficient daily rest. As a result, the driver was fined £600 and issued a drivers’ hours prohibition.”
VOSA area manager for North Wales David Collings added: “This case has shown how VOSA can use social media sites, such as Facebook, to identify and stop tired drivers before they cause accidents.”
The founder of VOSA Watch, countered: “VOSA Watch was not set up as a tip-off site, but as an information site for drivers who don’t want to be delayed, sometimes simply because their number plate is Irish.”