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Traffic Commissioners’ Annual Report 2019-2020

29 July

The Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain have (on 28 July 2020) published their Annual Report for 2019-2020.

Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

The report starts by outlining the steps taken by the Traffic Commissioners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide flexibility for operators to respond to the extraordinary operating conditions whilst maintaining road safety.

The specific areas referred to in the report are:

  • Changes in regulatory approach proportionate to the circumstances of the pandemic
  • The publication by the Senior Traffic Commissioner of:
    • a statutory document for Contingency and Emergency Planning (which can be accessed here).
  • practical advice and clarification for operators (which has been regularly updated throughout the pandemic in response to queries from operators and trade bodies) on a range of issues, including:
    • being unable to meet the financial standing requirements
    • losing access to an operating centre
    • being unable to comply with notified safety inspection intervals
    • not being able to attend training
    • being unable to run a registered bus service
    • needing to register or vary local bus services at short notice
  • The ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Heavy Goods (HGV) and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operators’ document issued by the Senior Traffic Commissioner can be accessed here)
  • The approach to be taken to assessments of financial standing and requests for periods of grace
  • Maintaining vehicle safety, recognising the difficulties operators may have faced gaining access to maintenance facilities
  • Work to enable DVSA to continue to carry out compliance checks and enforcement activities
  • The introduction of remote auditing and virtual training
  • Supporting the flexibilities necessary for bus service registrations
Observations from the Past Year

The report also includes the Traffic Commissioners’ observations from the past year of regulating lorry, coach and bus operators and professional drivers and makes specific reference to:

  • Driver employment status and the legitimacy or otherwise of a driver’s ‘self-employed’ status – particularly in light of an Upper Tribunal decision in March 2020, which considered driver employment status and specifically referred to the HMRC guidance that “unless they are an owner-driver, it is very rare for a lorry driver to be legally ‘self-employed’”
  • Brake testing and the expectations in relation to roller brake testing
  • The National ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) System as a resource to follow-up Traffic Commissioners’ decisions to revoke, curtail or suspend Operator’s Licences
  • Bridge strikes and the approach Traffic Commissioners expect operators to take in managing the risk of such incidents

The report concludes by providing the following key statistics for the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (covering both its licensing and regulatory functions) for 2019-2020:

  • Licensing
    • 11,803 Operator’s Licence applications and variations processed
    • 15,640 local bus registrations processed
  • Regulatory
    • 1,541 Public Inquiries held
    • 318 Preliminary Hearings held
    • 140 Senior Team Leader interviews held
    • 360 revocations
    • 124 suspensions
    • 295 curtailments
    • 99 operator disqualifications
    • 115 Transport Manager disqualifications
  • Driver Conduct
    • 17,937 Driver Conduct cases closed
    • 2,683 Driver Conduct Hearings
    • 3,388 applications for vocational entitlements refused
    • 219 vocational entitlements revoked
    • 640 vocational entitlements suspended

You can read the Traffic Commissioners’ Annual Report here and, for further advice, contact Backhouse Jones’ Regulatory team on or call 01254 828300

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