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Invest drivers hours windfall into road safety, says FTA

Posted on: 09/04/2019

A £3 million Treasury windfall, achieved by collecting fines from historical drivers’ hours offences, should be invested in stricter enforcement of road safety standards, the Freight Transport Association believes.

The call follows the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency’s announcement of a more than 700% increase in penalty fines after the first year of new enforcement powers coming into force.

“This £3 million windfall must not disappear into a Treasury black hole: instead, it should be invested immediately into the stricter enforcement of road safety standards, particularly for van drivers and non-GB operators, where road safety standards are much lower,” James Firth, the FTA’s Head of Road Freight Regulation Policy, said.  

“While the DVSA’s enforcement of commercial vehicles is almost exclusively funded by regular fees, paid for by operators when they get their vehicles tested, all fines go back to the Treasury, not the agency.  FTA hopes the Treasury will unlock this revenue to provide much-needed road safety funding.”

James Firth added: “The enforcement of van safety standards has reduced by half in the last five years; enforcement of non-GB van operators is marginal.  We want to see a much stronger enforcement effort.

“Investing this windfall in improved enforcement capabilities would reassure reputable road users, and ensure that the UK’s complex supply chain can continue to operate to maximum efficiency, without the threat of rogue or unscrupulous operators.”

From 5 March 2018, DVSA enforcement staff have been able to issue fines of up to £300 each for up to five drivers’ hours offences committed in the previous 28 days.  The DVSA’s powers were changed to allow it to take tougher action against all drivers exceeding their hours.

The enforcement rate of van mechanical safety standards fell from 20,520 in 2014 to 9,512 in 2017; enforcement against non-GB vans are measured in the hundreds annually.  In comparison, 26,671 mechanical enforcement checks and 28,791 drivers’ hours checks of HGVs took place in 2017.