Haulage licences go unchecked

 

THE DEPARTMENT of Transport has not revoked any haulage licences over the last two years despite being notified of over 14,000 infringements by British authorities and An Garda Síochána.

It was also unable to say how many licences have been revoked to date, but confirmed that no licences have been lost since May 2007.

The UK’s Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa) has referred over 8,000 road haulage offences to the Department over the last 12 months, including breaches of driving hours, driving an overloaded vehicle and failing a roadworthiness check.

According to the Garda, 6,251 road transport incidents were recorded on Pulse last year with several haulage companies having “multiple road transport offences detected”.

Vincent Caulfield, Irish Road Haulage Association president, said he was unaware of the department ever revoking or refusing a haulage licence and said the failure to do so allowed firms that flouted the law to remain on the road.

“When we met the Minister [for Transport] to discuss this matter two months ago he said that to revoke a licence could breach of the Constitution because it would harm that person’s ability to earn a living.”

Hauliers are obliged to re-apply for their licence every five years and the department is required to conduct a background check to confirm the applicant is of “good character”.

“All convictions for breaches for road haulage laws here or in the UK should show up then but a lad who spent time in jail in the UK for drugs offences got a licence recently so I’m not sure how thorough that check is,” Caulfield said.

He was aware of one company facing “scores of summonses” and said the system of fines and prosecutions was failing to protect legitimate hauliers. A spokeswoman for the department said legislation governing haulage licence revocation was being reviewed “as the legal and constitutional issues in this area have proven to be complex”.

The State has also missed a June deadline to establish a “risk register” of commercial vehicles that will assign a risk score to a haulage operator based on their compliance with tachograph and drivers’ hours regulations.

The Government and the Road Safety Authority have committed to reforming the commercial vehicle roadworthiness reform programme this year at a cost of €9 million to try to improve compliance with road transport law and to improve the condition of the HGV fleet operating in the State.