HGV and PSV drivers risk being called to appear before the Traffic Commissioner at Driver Conduct Hearings and having their vocational driving entitlements suspended as part of a new crackdown.
Joan Aitken, Traffic Commissioner for the Scottish Traffic Area, and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland have signed a “Memorandum of Understanding”, which formalises the process whereby Scottish police forces notify the Traffic Commissioner of details of mobile phone offences committed by HGV and PSV drivers. Scottish Police forces will forward written notification (providing details of the driver and the offence committed) to the Traffic Commissioner at the time of the offence, allowing the Traffic Commissioner to consider further action against the driver (such as suspension or revocation of the driver’s HGV or PSV driving entitlement) and, potentially, the driver’s employer.
The Police can issue a fixed penalty notice (or prosecute) in respect of mobile phone offences (imposing a fine and penalty points upon the driver); however the introduction of this new system will mean that HGV and PSV drivers will be called to appear before the Traffic Commissioner at Driver Conduct Hearings, where they will face further repercussions for mobile phone offences.
The Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Guidance and Directions (“the Guidance”) confirms that, whilst each case is decided on its own facts and merits, the starting point for a mobile phone offence committed in a HGV or PSV is the suspension of the driver’s vocational driving entitlement for a period of 21 days, to commence with immediate effect. The Guidance also confirms that, for subsequent mobile phone offences, this suspension will be multiplied accordingly (e.g. 2 x 21 days for a second offence, 3 x 21 days for a third offence and so on). This will impact heavily on drivers, as, for some, suspension of their vocational driving entitlement will mean loss of their employment and, consequently, their income; however, the Traffic Commissioner has confirmed that “it is that serious” and hopes that it will get the message across to HGV and PSV drivers not to use handheld mobile phones (or other devices) whilst driving.
Last year, 223 professional drivers were called to appear before the Traffic Commissioner at a Driver Conduct Hearings for driving offences, which included the use of mobile phones whilst driving.
For passionate and pragmatic assistance, advice and representation in relation to mobile phone (or other device) offences and Driver Conduct Hearings or any other aspect of road transport law, contact Laura Hadzik on 0161 828 1849, 07831 291 538 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org