Lorry licence suspended after driver admits interfering with tachograph

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A JEDBURGH haulage driver who used a magnet to interfere with his vehicle’s tachograph, has had his large goods vehicle licence suspended because of a lack of repute after he admitted falsifying his tachograph records, writes Mark Entwistle.

Scottish Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken’s decision was issued this week, after she called Thomas Scott and his partner Shirley Scott to a conjoined driver conduct inquiry and public inquiry in Edinburgh, in December.

Mrs Scott, of Dounehill, Jedburgh, holds a standard international goods vehicle operator licence for one vehicle and one trailer.

The licence, granted in 1997 is operated under a trading name of S&S International. The transport manager is Mr Scott, of the same address, who also holds a large goods vehicle driver licence.

The business has been running since 1994 and is based at the Old Bongate Mill, Jedburgh. The couple live together as husband and wife and have a grown-up son.

The hearing followed an incident on June 10, 2010, when Mr Scott’s Volvo lorry was stopped by a traffic examiner, and directed into Crimplesham Test Station on the A1122. Mr Scott was driving and the examiner found a mileage discrepancy on the vehicle’s tachograph unit.

The traffic commissioner heard that Mr Scott had used a magnet to interfere with the proper recording of his driving and rest.

As a result, Mr Scott was convicted at Kings Lynn Magistrates Court on September 16, 2010, of recording data which he knew to be false. The court gave him a discharge, suspended for 12 months. Mrs Scott’s solicitor had then notified the Traffic Commissioner of this conviction.

Giving her decision, Ms Aitken commented: “I cannot ignore that this driver knowingly used a magnet and interfered with the proper recording of his driving and rest. He crossed the line into unlawfulness.”

Drivers, she said, often faced the “rock and the hard place” of being pressured into breaking in to their rest for the sake of a short movement. But she made the distinction between a driver being in breach of the drivers’ hours and tachograph rules and someone interfering with tachograph recording equipment.

“Interference is interference and is the scourge of honest and safe driving. It is deceit,” she said.

She suspended Mr Scott’s large goods vehicle licence for nine months, effective from one minute before midnight on February 19, 2012. Ms Aitken also determined that Mr Scott has lost his repute as transport manager and she continued: “I find that I have no option but to find that Mr Scott is not fit by reason of his conduct in using a device to interfere with the recording equipment and also to have broken into rest and taken insufficient daily rest.

“For a transport manager to use a device goes straight to that transport manager’s repute.”

Mrs Scott, as the operator, was warned as to the licence undertakings in respect of drivers’ hours and tachographs and was given three months to nominate a satisfactory transport manager.