As transport regulators, the traffic commissioners promote safe passenger and goods transport.
Although most operators, like you, comply with the rules and take operator licensing very seriously, some aren't as diligent and don't keep road safety at the forefront of their minds.
Unfortunately, there are bad practices, dangerous vehicles and unsafe operations out there.
The commissioners work tirelessly to remove these businesses from the industry and keep our roads safe. They can do this because DVSA examiners investigate rogue operators and report them to the commissioners.
If you have information about any non-compliance, such as an overloaded lorry, a bus with dangerously low tyre treads or a vehicle carrying insufficiently secured goods, please report it to DVSA.
Call: 0300 123 9000
In 2017/18, 110 operators and 144 transport managers were disqualified by traffic commissioners.
Those orders were made to stop individuals overseeing vehicle operations for a certain period of time - and in the worst cases indefinitely.
Legitimate on paper
Some people ignore the ban they've been given and carry on operating illegally. Others try to hide what they're doing through a 'front'.
This might be a business which looks legitimate on paper and isn't connected to the banned operator.
Or it might be the disqualified person's got a silent connection to an existing licence holder.
That silent connection is a major risk for any legitimate operator and transport manager.
It's the exact situation a transport manager in the North East recently faced.
The operator he worked for hired vehicles and contracted maintenance to businesses which were run by an individual banned from operating until 2028.
The transport manager was given instructions and paid by the disqualified operator - not the licence holder - and didn't have a contract of employment.
He was prevented from carrying out his duties as TM and even asked to move vehicles for the banned operator's company. The TM left the business because he wasn't able to do his job.
The true operator
The Traffic Commissioner, Tim Blackmore, took no action against the transport manager at public inquiry. He recognised that the TM acted to quickly remove himself from the 'front' operation.
The licence holder didn't show up for the inquiry. After hearing evidence from a DVSA vehicle examiner, the Commissioner ruled the licence had been used as a front for the banned operator. He revoked the authority with immediate effect.
He also disqualified the firm's director for three years because he'd allowed his licence to be used as a front for a banned operator.
Check operator history
If you've got concerns about disqualified operators, you can check decisions made by traffic commissioners via our online records.
The director of a haulage firm has had his professional driving licence revoked after being told he should never have got behind the wheel of his vehicle.
West of England Traffic Commissioner, Kevin Rooney, said the director made a “serious, reckless error of judgement” by driving when he was probably suffering from fatigue.
He started at just before 6am and was driving again almost 18 hours later. He was also reported for travelling the wrong way around a roundabout.
The director admitted his mind wasn’t on driving due to personal issues.
This led Mr Rooney to say he should never have been behind the wheel.
During a conduct hearing, the Traffic Commissioner also found the director had driven vehicles to and from maintenance providers without a card in the tachograph head.
As well as revoking the director’s professional driving licence, Mr Rooney also banned him from holding or obtaining an operator’s licence for two years.
The latest written decisions by traffic commissioners are published here.
What happens when a bad operator is banned from running vehicles?
It means they can’t apply for or get another licence. In fact, it’s a criminal offence to do so.
A small minority of disqualified operators do attempt to continue operating.
They take a chance and try to get round the ban. Often they’re not named on documents and don’t show up when the licence application is made.
Luckily, staff working for the Office of the Traffic Commissioner scrutinise applications to identify links and associations to banned operators. This stops them from getting back in under the radar.
But sometimes banned operators draw attention to themselves.
In a recent case, a disqualified operator was featured in a commercial vehicle magazine. It gave the impression that he was the operator and employer of a driver who was named in the article. The director of the company wasn’t mentioned at all.
That wasn’t the only thing to gave it away. The transport manager said he’d been contacted by the banned operator and had never met company director.
And when DVSA told the director they suspected he wasn’t the genuine operator, he responded with “no comment”.
This led Traffic Commissioner Nick Jones to say the banned operator and company director had been caught out as “dishonest liars".
You can read the latest written decisions by traffic commissioners here.
A driver who drove erratically after being told to stop by DVSA acted in a “wholly disproportionate” manner and increased the risks to other road users through his behaviour.
Simon Evans, the North West Traffic Commissioner, heard the driver closed the gap between vehicles at speed on more than one occasion – only stopping inches from the rear bumper of the DVSA vehicle.
This “hot-headed conduct” had made the agency’s job of checking vehicles at the roadside more difficult.
Mr Evans was also told the driver had sworn at the enforcement officer and that his actions had been intimidating.
The driver – who was the operator of the vehicle as well – admitted he’d acted “stupidly” and said he regretted losing control on the day of the encounter.
Mr Evans said the “wholly improper” behaviour would reduce the operator’s credibility with other staff in his employment.
Stretched maintenance inspections and issues over the entity running the vehicles were also picked up during a public inquiry.
As a result, the Traffic Commissioner made an order to revoke the operator’s licence. He also found the requirements of fitness and availability of financial resources were not met.
DVSA has made clear that it won’t tolerate physical or verbal abuse of its staff. Traffic commissioners support the agency’s campaign to tackle any unacceptable behaviour DVSA staff may face when carrying out their professional duties.
Making sure your drivers are properly licensed to drive commercial vehicles is really important.
As a compliant operator, you’ll be carrying out regular checks to confirm your drivers have the right entitlements.
You also need to be sure there’s no action recorded against their licences, such as a suspension or disqualification.
With the DVLA check someone's driving licence information service you can do these checks online.
The driver has to log in and give you permission to access their details.
To find out more, watch this short video from the DVLA.
A transport manager who lacked the hunger for compliance has been disqualified from working in the role for five years.
Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney took the action after finding the TM didn’t have the necessary knowledge to carry out the job.
Mr Rooney said drivers hadn’t been properly managed – which led to “a simply immense amount” of prohibitions being issued.
DVSA examiners reported the operator’s vehicles had picked up eight prohibitions in the first four months of this year. A total of 30 had been issued to vehicles on the licence over the previous five years.
Shockingly, defects on 14 of the prohibitions would have been spotted if drivers had done satisfactory walk round checks. But they didn’t.
And one of the prohibited vehicles was actually being used in excess of the operator’s licence authorisation.
A public inquiry also heard that 8 out of the operator’s 15 drivers claimed to be self-employed through their own limited companies. Mr Rooney said the operator’s licence would be curtailed to 7 vehicles indefinitely if he didn't receive evidence that drivers were lawfully employed.
Mr Rooney concluded the transport manager had forfeit his good repute and would be disqualified for five years. He added that a robust and knowledgeable transport manager needed to be put in place for the operator to keep its licence.
As an operator, transport manager, driver or technician, you know just how quickly vehicle technology continues to progress.
That’s why it’s vital for DVSA's essential Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness to be regularly updated.
As the lead traffic commissioners for enforcement, we're pleased to have worked with DVSA and with those who operate and maintain commercial vehicles to produce the latest version of the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness, which is available now.
This ongoing collaborative working ensures that the information is informed, relevant and up-to-date.
You will find references to new approaches such as electronic brake performance monitoring which can remove some of the challenges around roller brake testing of trailers.
On safety inspection intervals, this edition of the guide no longer features the graph of mileage vs inspection frequency. We strongly encourage you to take a proactive, evidence-based approach to setting inspection frequencies.
As before, nothing in the guide is mandatory but, by following it, you’ll ensure that you meet the relevant conditions and undertakings on your licence.
These are the commitments you made when you first applied for your licence.
Sarah Bell and Kevin Rooney
How much importance are you putting on safety when you send your vehicles out onto public roads, where everyday people go about their day-to-day business?
Shockingly, it’s not always the answer we’d expect within the transport industry.
Expired MOTs, missed maintenance inspections, loose wheel nuts, failing ABS systems and inadequate monitoring of drivers’ hours are commonplace in some operations, raising very serious concerns for road safety.
In a recent case heard by Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton, a vehicle had a tyre blow out while in service which also left the rear stop and indicator lights inoperable. After replacing the tyre, the driver continued on his journey for a considerable distance with lights that weren’t in working order.
A DVSA investigation found that the driver of the vehicle didn’t possess the necessary driving entitlement or a driver CPC, while the vehicle was operating without an MOT. Few safety inspection records were available for scrutiny and the operator couldn’t produce any tachograph data.
Nick Denton described the actions of the operator as “a grotesque failure” to abide by many of the requirements for safe and lawful operation of vehicles. Revoking the firm’s licence was an “inevitable” outcome.
The most serious cases of non compliance can also lead to criminal convictions and fines. Recently, the director of a company and a HGV supervisor were convicted for causing or abetting dangerous driving after a vehicle involved in a crash was found with 18 safety related defects.
The judge described the vehicle as an accident waiting to happen and said the risk of harm posed was “at a level of death” after a member of the public was left with life changing injuries.
The pair involved were fined sums of £9,000 and £2,000 respectively. They’d previously been dealt with by Nick Denton at public inquiry, where the licence was revoked and the director disqualified for eight years.
Allowing vehicles which are not roadworthy to be driven on public roads should never happen. Operators who let standards fall don’t just put their licences at risk, they also risk people’s lives.
From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.
This will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.
How the change will work
Learner drivers will need to be:
Any motorways lessons will be voluntary
It will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough for them.
Until the law changes, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.
Find out how the rules will work in the full announcement