10,000 Haulage Operators on Safety 'Red List'

09 March by Ashley Smith


Listening to File on 4: Rogue Hauliers on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 7 March it is clear that safety within the haulage industry is patchy at best and criminal at worst.

About 10,000 haulage operators are on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) "red list" because of the risk they pose to other road users, however this does not always mean that standards are enforced.

In February 2015, the brakes of a tipper truck failed on a steep hill in Bath. The vehicle careered out of control and killed four people.  Two people from the haulage company were subsequently jailed. The investigation into Grittenham Haulage revealed inadequate mechanical checks and disregard for the rules around drivers' hours.

Just over a year before the crash, company boss Matthew Gordon had applied to the traffic commissioner in Bristol for an operator licence. He got the licence but only after promising to introduce regular, independent checks on his drivers' hours, but he reneged on the pledge.

The traffic commissioner admitted that no-one checked up on Mr Gordon and that it is taken on trust that operators will honour their promises.

Over the last two years Transport for London (TfL) have stopped 18,000 hauliers and stats show that only one in five have complied with safety rules. This is a startling reality, particularly in light of the recent tragedy in Bath. 

Siwan Hayward, Head of Roads Policing for TfL, said: "What is shocking is the difficulty in actually removing those rogue operators.

"We have been immobilising their vehicles, arresting their drivers, taking them through the criminal justice system and ultimately take them in front of the traffic commissioner so their operator's licence can be removed."

But a number of them defy the ban and stay on the road.

Between 2014 and 2015, the amount of goods transported by GB registered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) operating in the UK increased by 12 per cent to 152 billion tonne kilometres and the distance travelled by HGVs in the UK increased by 9 per cent to 18.4 billion vehicle kilometres.(DfT, August 2016)

The UK has one of the best road safety records in the world, but as haulage traffic increases, safety standards will clearly need to rise.

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