The Government has announced new changes to rules for commercial drivers in a bid to crack down on driving while tired.
The Drive and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has the power to fine commercial drivers up to £300 if they are caught breaking the rules on how many hours they can drive and the breaks they need to take.
Currently the DVSA can only fine drivers for offences committed that day and ongoing offences, like manipulating tachograph records, which record drivers’ hours.
Under the new changes, DVSA traffic examiners will be given new powers to issue on-the-spot fines for any drivers’ hours offences committed in the last 28 days.
British drivers can be fined if the offences took place abroad and the rules will also apply to drivers caught breaking the rules in Great Britain even if they are from other countries.
From 1st November 2017, DVSA will also start to fine drivers up to £300 if they spend their full weekly rest break in their vehicle in places where it causes a problem, for example, if a lorry driver spends their full break in the cab of their lorry in a layby.
The change is designed to ensure that drivers get a proper rest and are not exposed to poor living conditions, DVSA said.
Around 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles and almost a quarter of injuries in accidents involving lorries are fatal or serious.
According to RoSPA, driving while tired may be responsible for 1 in 5 (20%) of all accidents and up to a quarter of serious and fatal crashes.
DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewllyn, said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles. These tougher fines will help us to take stronger action against any drivers or operators who break drivers’ hours rules and will help make our roads safer.
“There’s no excuse for driving while tired. The results of falling asleep at the wheel of 40 tonne lorry can be devastating to families and communities. Any driver breaking these rules is putting other road users at risk and could face losing their licence and livelihood.”
James Firth, the Freight Transport Association’s Head of Licensing Policy and Compliance Information, said:
“For some years, DVSA officers have been virtually powerless to take effective action against non-UK HGV drivers who may have committed a string of offences in the days and weeks before the vehicle is stopped.
“These new powers mean the enforcement authorities will be more able – and more likely – to take action against all drivers who are found to have repeatedly flouted these critical road safety laws.”