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The Annual Report of the Traffic Commissioners – Improved Service to Industry and Better Targeting of the Most Serious Offenders

The Traffic Commissioners have detailed their approach to tackling rule breakers and to improving services for the compliant in their recent annual report.  The annual report provides information on major aspects of the Traffic Commissioners’ judicial, regulatory and administrative roles

The reduction in application processing times has been highlighted in the report. Between 2016/17 to 2017/18, the average decision time was reduced by 4 weeks from 11 weeks to 7 weeks as well as 90.2% of digital licence applications being granted within 7 weeks. By applying digitally, time is saved, correspondence time decreased and applicants benefit from an intuitive application process which is designed to ensure they provide the information required making things run more smoothly.

The report also highlights real and potential consequences of poor maintenance of vehicles.  One example used was an operator who transports children to and from school with the report stating “It will be hard for anyone to understand why some operators believe it is acceptable to take our children to school in vehicles that are plainly dangerous.”  Compliance and quality should be the top priority. 

The Traffic Commissioners are demonstrating they will take action against the most serious offenders.   971 hearings were held by them between 2017/18 in respect of safety or licencing breaches which were reported in respect of businesses.

Furthermore, the report recognises the importance of maintaining a level playing field in the industry. The Traffic Commissioners recognise that most HGV and PSV operators operate within the rules and are committed to running vehicles which are safe. It is also felt that licence holders should be able to assume that they will be able to win contracts they bid on instead of losing out to operators who may be cutting corners on the safety front.

The report says that those operators getting it right still need “reassurance and guidance” to stay compliant.  It encourages transport managers to attend refresher training in order to maintain their skills and knowledge and businesses are encouraged to make sure their transport managers are doing their job correctly or risk losing their permission to operate vehicles.

The report indicates that poor management and failure to access proper guidance are often the underlying causes of operators underperforming  

The Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain, Richard Turfitt, stated that the regulators’ approach better supports economic growth and innovation and although there is relative safety on our roads, that doesn’t mean there is room for complacency when it comes to compliance standards.

The report discusses the need to properly resource the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and the importance of the role of others supporting them.  It also highlights the importance of the role of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

Other activities the Traffic Commissioners have been focusing on which are included in the report are:

·         reducing the time to get serious offenders to a hearing;

·         commissioning a study on the efficacy of their sanctions;

·         publishing average application processing times on GOV.UK; and

·         publishing their written decisions on GOV.UK.

The report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-commissioners-annual-report-2017-to-2018. Please contact our regulatory team for more information and training refresher courses. 

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